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See also: blue-stocking


Alternative forms[edit]


Originally a member of the 18th-century Blue Stockings Society led by Elizabeth Montagu on the Parisian model.[1]

None of the ladies wore blue stockings. Instead, Benjamin Stillingfleet is said to be the first Blue Stocking.[2] He was not rich enough to have the proper formal dress, which included black silk stockings and so he attended in everyday blue worsted stockings.


bluestocking (plural bluestockings)

  1. (derogatory) A scholarly, literary, or cultured woman.
    Synonym: (dated) basbleu
    • 1846, Reynolds, George W.M., The Mysteries of London volume 1, London: George Vickers, page 109:
      But Isabel was no blue-stocking; she was full of vivacity and life, and her conversation was sprightly and agreeable, even when turning upon those serious subjects.
    • 1896, Maurice Walter Keatinge (tr.), The great didactic of John Amos Comenius, London: Adam and Charles Black, translation of Didactica Magna by John Amos Comenius:
      And let none cast in my teeth [] the remark of Hippolytus in Euripides: “I detest a bluestocking. May there never be a woman in my house who knows more than is fitting for a woman to know.”
    • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter IX, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
      “Heavens!” exclaimed Nina, “the blue-stocking and the fogy!—and yours are pale blue, Eileen!—you’re about as self-conscious as Drina—slumping there with your hair tumbling à la Mérode! Oh, it's very picturesque, of course, but a straight spine and good grooming is better. []
    • 2001, Allen, Louise Anderson, A Bluestocking in Charleston: The Life and Career of Laura Bragg[1], Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, →ISBN, OL 8695302M:
      Bragg was a Massachusetts-born bluestocking, a New Woman of the Progressive Era who changed not only the cultural face of Charleston but also the nation's approach to museum education.
    • 2003 October 5, Allan, Brooke, “The Surveyor of Customs”, in The New York Times[2], ISSN 0362-4331:
      The artist who created strong, passionate, brilliant heroines turns out to have disapproved of bluestockings and refused to educate his own intelligent daughters.
    • 2016 August 14, Douthat, Ross, “A Playboy for President”, in The New York Times[3]:
      But the cultural conflict between these two post-revolutionary styles — between frat guys and feminist bluestockings, Gamergaters and the diversity police, alt-right provocateurs and 'woke' dudebros, the mouthbreathers who poured hate on the all-female 'Ghostbusters' and the tastemakers who pretended it was good — is likely here to stay.
  2. (historical) A member of the 18th-century Blue Stockings Society.


  • Dutch: blauwkous (calque)
  • French: bas-bleu (calque)
  • German: Blaustrumpf (calque)



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “bluestocking”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Wikipedia-logo.svg Benjamin Stillingfleet on Wikipedia.Wikipedia