Definition of bluestocking in English:


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often derogatory
  • An intellectual or literary woman.

    ‘a Victorian bluestocking’
    • ‘bluestocking women’
    • ‘Are book editors letting the good ones get away and, in the process, limiting their audience to literary bluestockings?’
    • ‘The roll-call of celebrated women expanded from the traditional saints, queens, Biblical heroines and aristocratic savantes to include middle-class bluestockings, actresses and other non-elite prodigies.’
    • ‘Both parties sign a contract setting out terms on which they insist, and men are presented with a variety of women from nymphomaniacs through bluestockings to homemakers.’
    • ‘Even the liberal wing of the aristocracy took its tone from the salons of bluestockings.’
    • ‘The portrait of ‘patriarchal oppression’ presented by the investigative journalist is nonsense, incidentally, and he - who has the perspective and temperament of a Victorian bluestocking - was laughed off the island.’
    • ‘At 20, Gertrude was ‘a snob, a bluestocking, a woman with attitude’, according to her biographer.’
    • ‘The American debate contrasts favourably with the cavalier way such issues in Britain have been relegated to a quango and the whim of an elderly bluestocking baroness.’
    • ‘She has suffered a little herself from being viewed by some as the archetypal bluestocking.’
    • ‘A Canadian bluestocking saw things a little differently.’
    • ‘Some of these professors, self-proclaimed bluestockings, did disdain marriage.’
    • ‘Among the several virtues she lacks - being a Calvinist bluestocking is plainly responsible - are objectivity, impersonality, and a sense of the comic finiteness of human beings.’
    • ‘More seriously, she argues that he was blackmailed into rejecting the comedy by a bluestocking who threatened to reveal that the great actor-manager's protege was his illegitimate son.’
    • ‘Though, with her reputation as a bluestocking, the family puts its hopes in the younger now.’
    • ‘This room was used for entertaining on an intimate scale, for instance for her meetings with her bluestocking friend, but also served as a public room when opened up with the rest of the apartment.’
    • ‘Why, from what I know of her and what I have heard of Lady Josephine, she is quite a bluestocking!’
    • ‘She's suppose to be a tomboy and bluestocking with grass in her hair from reading outside,’ he teased, a grin lighting up his sun-bronzed face.’
    • ‘She is just trying to survive her first season in the haut ton of Regency England and retain the tomboy, bluestocking identity her brothers had fostered in her though out her childhood.’
    • ‘As for her daughter, she was a bluestocking, one of only four of the class of 1958 debs who won a place at university.’
    • ‘She was a bluestocking, to whom German, mathematics, church history, and medicine were pure pleasure.’
    intelligent person, learned person, highbrow, academic, bookworm, bookish person, man of letters, woman of letters, bluestocking, thinker, brain, scholar, sage



/ˈblo͞oˌstäkiNG/ /ˈbluˌstɑkɪŋ/


Late 17th century originally used to describe a man wearing blue worsted (instead of formal white silk) stockings; extended to mean ‘in informal dress’. Later the term denoted a person who attended the literary assemblies held (c1750) by three London society ladies, where some of the men favored less formal dress. The emphasis on the encouragement of female intellectuals in this circle led to the association of the term blue stocking (and its derivatives, e.g. blue-stockingers) specifically with the involvement of women in the intellectual world.