Definitions

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

  • adj. Of, relating to, or being highly cultured or intellectual: They only attend highbrow events such as the ballet or the opera.
  • n. One who possesses or affects a high degree of culture or learning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Intellectually stimulating, highly cultured.
  • n. A cultured or learned person or thing.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. highly cultured or educated; pertaining to highly educated people.
  • n. a person of intellectual or erudite tastes; an intellectual.

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

  • adj. highly cultured or educated
  • n. a person of intellectual or erudite tastes

Etymologies

From a compound of the words high and brow, first recorded usage in 1875. Referring to the (by that time discredited) science of phrenology, which suggested that a person of intelligence and sophistication would possess a higher brow-line than someone of lesser intelligence and sophistication. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But you know the highbrow is a fanatic, just as the lowbrow.

    the Influence of Music on the Community

  • This “Opinion piece” was nothing more than an exercise in highbrow name calling.

    Donna Hughes: Have tattooes? You don’t deserve respect. « Bound, Not Gagged

  • But this same small locale is also deeply interesting in highbrow ways.

    Macau’s Big Gamble

  • "I'll confess that I was a bit annoyed when the film I had decided was the closest thing to perfect I saw all year suddenly became the critics 'darling in highbrow end-of-the-year polls," grumbles Bryant Frazer.

    GreenCine Daily: Weekend lists.

  • I'm having difficulty understanding your need to predict how certain highbrow critics will respond to the film.

    GreenCine Daily: Shorts, 11/30.

  • I wrote a piece for Esquireit won't see print for a couple of months, unfortunately, since the film's true release isn't until Februarypredicting that certain highbrow critics would respond to this film with the same shallow outrage that e.g. Hoberman felt toward Schindler's List: How dare you make a movie about a few thousand people who lived when six million died?

    GreenCine Daily: Shorts, 11/30.

  • Mr. Kahane is known as a highbrow polymath: an accomplished new-music composer who also plays an array of instruments and writes pop songs of theatrical effect.

    NYT > Home Page

  • He was a sophisticated, well-schooled musician and loved the idea of highbrow arrangements over simple three-chord rock and roll.

    Me, The Mob, And The Music

  • Editor's note: Often, many of the more sophisticated and literary blogs, often referred to as highbrow blogs post beautiful poetry, and I want to try and emulate their good taste with my new series, Thursday Poetry Corner - I hope you enjoy.

    Thursday Poetry Corner

  • It was felt to be off-limits, and now, everyone is piling into this story, even the so-called highbrow papers like "The Guardian" which, again, a few years ago, wouldn't have devoted nearly so much space to it.

    CNN Transcript Apr 15, 2001

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