bluestocking

Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A woman with strong scholarly or literary interests.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Wearing blue stockings; specifically, wearing blue or gray worsted stockings, as opposed to those of black silk worn in court or ceremonial dress; hence, not in full dress; in plain dress.
  • Applied to assemblies held in London about 1750 at the houses of Mrs. Montague and other ladies, in which literary conversation and other intellectual enjoyments were substituted for cards and gossip, and which were characterized by a studied plainness of dress on the part of some of the guests. Among these was Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, who always wore blue stockings, and in reference to whom, especially, the coterie was called in derision the “Blue-stocking Society” or the “Blue-stocking Club,” and the members, especially the ladies, “blue-stockingers,” “blue-stocking ladies,” and later simply “blue-stockings” or “blues.”
  • noun A member of the “Blue-stocking Club,” especially a woman (see above); by extension, any woman with a taste for learning or literature; a literary woman: originally used in derision or contempt, and implying a neglect on the part of such women of their domestic duties or a departure from their “proper sphere”; now hardly used except historically or humorously.
  • noun A name of the American avoset, Recurvirostra americana. See avoset.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun colloq. A literary lady; a female pedant.
  • noun (Zoöl.) The American avocet (Recurvirostra Americana).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A scholarly, literary, or cultured woman.

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

  • noun a woman having literary or intellectual interests

Etymologies

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

[After the Blue Stocking, Society, a nickname for a predominantly female literary club of 18th-century London (probably so called after the blue worsted stockings commonly worn as part of informal dress at the time).]

Examples

  • Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet was the origin of the term bluestocking!

    Proofreading Adventures

  • Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet was the origin of the term bluestocking!

    Proofreading Adventures

  • Donna has been a Gentianella I will not have her called a bluestocking for years; and she could tell you astonishing things!

    June 2007

  • AJ, baby, you look up the word bluestocking in the Merriam-Webster and you'll find a picture of me.

    <a href="http://althouse.blogspot.com/2007/02/literature-professor-with-nerve-to.html" title="The literature professor with the nerve to lecture

  • Donna has been a Gentianella I will not have her called a bluestocking for years; and she could tell you astonishing things!

    Sorry Her Lot Who Loves Too Well - A Dress A Day

  • In English parlance (or at least the parlance of my university generation), my - and it sounds like your - core identity is a 'bluestocking' - female, bookish, determined to make up their own mind, not into power/material things in any competitive way (though we are often surprisingly domestic in selected areas, such as cake baking or crafting or homemaking, and we tend to amass books), fascinated by knowledge for its own sake and driven to find out more and to share what we find with others.

    A New Chapter, Or a Different Story?

  • By the time of Montagu's death in 1800, any female intellectual might be labelled a bluestocking, whether or not she could claim a link to the original circle.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • 'The bluestocking is the most odious character in society,' wrote Hazlitt.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • Well, if a Gentianella was called a bluestocking commonly, then insisting that the woman in question be named a Gentianella would be insisting that there is little (nothing?) common about her (and by extension, about being a female scientist?)

    Sorry Her Lot Who Loves Too Well - A Dress A Day

  • The internet vitriol easily matched that of William Hazlitt two centuries ago, when he wrote: "The bluestocking is the most odious character in society ... she sinks wherever she is placed, like the yolk of an egg, to the bottom, and carries the filth with her."

    Top stories from Times Online

Comments

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  • The history of this interesting term provides examples of how meanings of words can be extended via metonymy.

    Originally, bluestocking meant simply "blue (silk) stockings". A Mr. Benjamin Stillingwell was reprimanded for wearing blue silk stockings to a literary club meeting whose dress code mandated black silk stockings, and was labeled a "bluestocking" (part-for-whole metonymy). Later the term was applied to anyone attending literary circles (generalization), and later still, to just women who attended literary circles (specialization). Finally, the meaning narrowed further to refer to women of pedantic literary or academic interests. (Source: Speaking of Colors by Martina Plümacher and Peter Holz, 2007. John Benjamins Publishing Company, 244 pp. ISBN 9027238952)

    January 4, 2009

  • Wiki article on the Blue Stockings Society

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Stockings_Society

    April 7, 2014