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Related to ivory: ivory tower
live in an/(one's) ivory tower
To reside or exist in a place or among a social circle that is characterized by effete academic intelligence and thus is out of touch with or aloof from the realities of life. I don't put much weight in the advice of a bunch of economists living in their ivory towers who've never worked a real job in their lives. It seemed easy to solve all the world's problems when I was living in an ivory tower. Now that I'm out of college, I realize things are so much more complex than I'd imagined.
an/(one's) ivory tower
A place or a social circle that is characterized by effete academic intelligence and thus is out of touch with or aloof from the realities of life. I don't put much weight in the advice of a bunch of economists living in their ivory towers who've never worked a real job in their lives. It seemed easy to solve all the world's problems when I was living in an ivory tower. Now that I'm out of college, I realize things are so much more complex than I'd imagined.
tickle the ivory/ivories
To play the piano. An allusion to its white keys, which were formerly made of ivory. My father used to love tickling the ivories after dinner. My friends asked if I would tickle the ivory at their wedding reception.
A thoroughly stupid person; someone with no sense or intelligence. Don't listen to any advice that ivory dome gives you—he's only got a job here because of who his daddy is. There's no way I'll lose to a ivory dome like you.
*in an ivory tower
Fig. in a place, such as a university, where one can be aloof from the realities of living. (Typ—ically: be ~; dwell ~; live ~; work ~.) If you didn't spend so much time in your ivory tower, you'd know what people really think! Many professors are said to live in ivory towers. They don't know what the real world is like.
tickle the ivories
to play the piano. I used to be able to tickle the ivories real nice. She sat down to tickle the ivories for a while.
A place or attitude of retreat, remoteness from everyday affairs, as in What does the professor know about student life, living as he does in an ivory tower? This term is a translation of the French tour d'ivoire, which the critic Saint-Beuve used to describe the attitude of poet Alfred de Vigny in 1837. It is used most often in reference to intellectuals and artists who remain complacently aloof.
tickle the ivories
Play the piano, as in He went on tickling the ivories until three in the morning. This expression alludes to a piano's keys, traditionally made of ivory. [Colloquial; first half of 1900s]
tickle the ivoriesINFORMAL
If someone tickles the ivories, they play the piano. Peter Brown tickles the ivories tonight at the Mercury Lounge alongside bassist Chris Breitner.
an ivory tower
COMMON If you say that someone is in an ivory tower, you mean that they are protected from the problems of ordinary life and are not aware of how ordinary people live. They're all out of touch — they live up in a little ivory tower, and they don't see what's going on down here. This won't happen until politicians come down from their ivory tower and learn to work in the real world of limited budgets and uncertain futures. Note: This is a translation of a French expression `tour d'ivoire', which was used by the critic Saint-Beuve to describe the way in which the writer Alfred de Vigny isolated himself from the rest of society.
tickle (or tinkle) the ivoriesplay the piano. informal
The ivories are the white keys of the piano, traditionally made of ivory.
an ˌivory ˈtower(disapproving) a way of life in which people avoid the unpleasant realities of life: Just because I’m a writer, it doesn’t mean I live in an ivory tower. I have to earn a living like anyone else. ♢ What do professors and academics sitting in their ivory towers know about the real world?
1. n. the teeth. (see also China.) I gotta go brush my ivories.
2. n. piano keys. (From when piano keys were made from real elephant ivory.) She can really bang those ivories.
3. n. dice. Hand me those ivories. The baby needs shoes!
See also: ivory
n. an imaginary location where aloof academics are said to reside and work. Why don’t you come out of your ivory tower and see what the world is really like?
tickle the ivories
tv. to play the piano. I used to be able to tickle the ivories real nice.
A situation or attitude remote from practical affairs. The term originated in the French critic Sainte-Beuve’s description of poet Alfred de Vigny as living in an ivory tower (1837), that is, isolated from life’s harsh realities. Subsequently, the term has been used to describe academics, artists, writers, or indeed anyone complacently aloof from everyday affairs. Cyril Connolly (Enemies of Promise, 1938) used it to disparage Walter Pater: “Pater, calling an art-for-art’s sake muezzin to the faithful from the top-most turret of the ivory tower.” The term is heard less often today but is by no means obsolete.