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A state of deep contemplation or rumination, as of a reverie, daydream, or meditation. It originally meant a melancholic or depressed mood or state (dating from at least the 1500s), but has since largely lost that association. It is usually preceded by "in a." Meredith sat at her desk in a brown study, carefully planning how to word her thesis proposal.
A person who can learn new material quickly. Primarily heard in US. You daughter is making great progress in her piano lessons—she's really a quick study.
in a brown study
In deep contemplative thought. The would-be poet can often be found in the local café, sequestered in the same corner armchair in a brown study.
a person who is quick to learn things. (Compare this to slow study.) Jane, who is a quick study, caught the joke immediately and laughed before everyone else.
a person who is slow to learn things. (Compare this to a slow study.) Fred, who is a slow study, never caught on to the joke.
study for something
to try to learn in preparation for an examination. I have to study for my calculus exam. Have you studied for your exam yet?
See also: study
study up on someone or something
to learn all one can about someone or something. I have to study up on Abraham Lincoln in preparation for my speech. John studied up on seashells.
brown study, in a
Daydreaming or deeply contemplative, as in Margaret sits in the library, in a brown study. This term dates from the late 1500s, and although by then in a study had long meant "lost in thought," the reason for adding brown is unclear. Moreover, the present idiom also is ambiguous, some holding that it denotes genuine thoughtfulness and others that it signifies absentmindedness.
See also: brown
in a brown studyin a reverie; absorbed in your thoughts.
The earliest meaning of brown in English was simply ‘dark’. From this, an extended sense of ‘gloomy or serious’ developed and it is apparently from this sense that we get the phrase in a brown study .
2001 New York Review of Books When he isn't stirring up mischief, or conniving for gold, or composing beautiful poetry, he's apt to be sunk in a brown study.
n. someone who studies hard. (A play on party animal.) At the end of the school year every party animal turns into a study animal.