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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. I don't care what some professor thinks will improve the education system—he's off in his ivory tower while we're on the front lines teaching kids in under-resourced communities!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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?
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer