Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
September 3rd, 2015
Episode 308 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for September 03, 2015 is: bluestocking \BLOO-stah-king\ noun : a woman having intellectual or literary interests Examples: "The author is a bluestocking, with a weakness for etymology and archaic religious texts." Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review, 21 Dec. 2008 "Most New Yorkers, of course, will want to spend more than five minutes talking to a bluestockingafter all, this is nothing if not a town that attracts literary, witty types." Christie Wright, The New York Observer, 7 Oct. 2014 Did you know? In mid-18th century England, a group of women decided to replace evenings of card playing and idle chatter with "conversation parties," inviting illustrious men of letters to discuss literary and intellectual topics with them. One regular guest was scholar-botanist Benjamin Stillingfleet. His hostesses willingly overlooked his cheap blue worsted stockings (a type disdained by the elite) in order to have the benefit of his lively conversation. Those who considered it inappropriate for women to aspire to learning derisively called the group the "Blue Stocking Society." The women who were the original bluestockings rose above the attempted put-down and adopted the epithet as a name for members of their society.