Definition of ivory tower in English:

ivory tower


  • A state of privileged seclusion or separation from the facts and practicalities of the real world.

    ‘the ivory tower of academia’
    • ‘I'm not going to an ivory tower to write reports and articles for other academics.’
    • ‘Some of us would enjoy the ivory tower only too much, and there is plenty of self-interest on the part of academics who want to return to it.’
    • ‘Rhythm and movement are everywhere in India, like air and water, and affect even the most prosaic shopkeeper in the bazaar or the academic in his ivory tower.’
    • ‘His views are shaped by regular trips on the beat, recognising it is not enough to sit ‘in my ivory tower pontificating about the sociology of drug abuse’.’
    • ‘Robbie Johnson had cornered a timid young lecturer and was educating him about the nature of the real world outside the ivory tower.’
    theoretical, conceptual, notional, philosophical, unpragmatic, hypothetical, speculative, conjectural, conjectured, suppositional, putative
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: translating French tour d'ivoire, used by the writer Sainte-Beuve.


ivory tower