town and gown

Cultural Dictionary

town and gown definition


In a college town, the relations between “town and gown” are those between the residents of the town and the students and faculty associated with the school, who in the past wore academic gowns. Such relations are often not friendly or pleasant.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

town and gown

The inhabitants of a college or university town and the students and personnel of the college, as in There used to be friction between town and gown but the new parking lots have eased it. The gown in this expression alludes to the academic robes traditional in British universities. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature