Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A place or attitude of retreat, especially preoccupation with lofty, remote, or intellectual considerations rather than practical everyday life.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sheltered, overly-academic existence or perspective, implying a disconnection or lack of awareness of reality or practical considerations.
  • adj. Seperated from reality and practical matters; overly academic.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a state of mind that is discussed as if it were a place

Etymologies

Translation of French tour d'ivoire : tour, tower + de, of + ivoire, ivory.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1911, calque of French figurative use, based on literal biblical phrase. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Langer isn’t just an ivory tower academic-he holds more than five hundred patents, and his research has led to everything from the development of the nicotine patch to brain cancer treatments.

    The Audacity of Hope

Comments

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  • How many elephant (Republican) tusks does it take to make one Ivory Tower (elitist)?

    October 10, 2008