absent-minded professor

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English[edit]

Noun[edit]

absent-minded professor (plural absent-minded professors)

  1. A stereotypical fictional character whose focus on academic matters leads them to ignore or forget their surroundings.
    • 1864, The American Educational Monthly, Volume 1‎, p. 23:
      An absent-minded professor, in going out of the gateway of his college, ran against a cow. In the confusion of the moment, he raised his hat, and exclaimed: " I beg your pardon, Madam." Soon after, he stumbled against a lady in the street. In sudden recollection of his former mishap, he called out: "Is that you again, you brute?"
    • 1890, Charles Stuart Pratt, "Adolf Oberlauder, Humorist", in The Cosmopolitan, Volume 9‎, p. 612:
      Although the absent-minded professor has appeared frequently in American humor it is safe to assert that the dire extremity of the learned man in the tragedy of A Defective Memory could hardly have been reached outside of Germany.
    • 1897, Melvin Dewey et al., Library Journal, Volume 22‎, p. 42:
      Even when the absent-minded professor comes in and says he wants a book he saw noticed a few weeks ago, he has forgotten the author's name and can't recall the title, but he is sure it is a good book because the Nation or the Saturday Review, he really can't remember which, said so, try to find out what he wants and get it for him.
  2. (by extension) A person who tends to be oblivious to reality.
    • 1997, Edward M. Hallowell, When You Worry About the Child You Love‎, page 38:
      Snapshot: Jimmy, a third-grader, is an absent-minded professor before his time. He forgets everything, from his lunch box in the morning, to his raincoat
    • 2003, Judith Sherven, Be Loved for Who You Really Are, page 172:
      Judith: I call Jim "The Ditz" when he is the absent-minded professor.
    • 2005, Amy Demorest, Psychology's grand theorists: how personal experiences shaped professional ideas‎, page 174:
      ... a dreamy youth whose siblings teased him for being an absent-minded professor.
    • 2009, Mark I. West, The Japanification of children's popular culture: from godzilla to miyazaki‎, page 59:
      Professor Oak, the world's leading Pokémon expert, is at once a genius and a bumbling, absent-minded professor
    • 2009, Mitchell Graham, Dead Docket‎, page 274:
      “My brother, the absent-minded professor,” she said, motioning to me with her thumb. “Don't you know why that date looks familiar, silly?

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