brown study

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From obsolete brown (gloomy) and study.


  • (file)


brown study (plural brown studies)

  1. (idiomatic, dated) A melancholy mood accompanied by deep thought; a moody daydream.
    • 1690, [John] Dryden, Amphitryon; or, The Two Sosia’s. [], London: [] J[acob] Tonson, []; and M. Tonson [], published 1691, →OCLC, Act III, pages 29–30:
      Phædra. [...] Why Soſia! What, in a brown Study? / Soſia. A little cogitabund, or ſo; concerning this diſmal Revolution in our Family!
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
      So gathering up the shavings with another grin, and throwing them into the great stove in the middle of the room, he went about his business, and left me in a brown study.
    • 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box:
      Finding that Holmes was too absorbed for conversation, I had tossed aside the barren paper, and leaning back in my chair, I fell into a brown study. Suddenly my companion's voice broke in upon my thoughts.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia (Avignon Quintet), Faber & Faber, published 1992, page 428:
      But Quatrefages glared at his plate in a brown study.

Usage notes[edit]

Usually said as “somebody is in a brown study”.