Word of the Day Archive
Friday October 4, 2013
1. a woman with considerable scholarly, literary, or intellectual ability or interest.
2. a member of a mid-18th-century London literary circle: Lady Montagu was a celebrated bluestocking.
...if you rolled the whole group into one girl, she would be what Norine said — a rich, assured, beautiful bluestocking.
-- Mary McCarthy, The Group, 1963
She reads such deep books—all about facts and figures: she'll be quite a blue-stocking by and by.
-- Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters, 1864-1866
Bluestocking originally referred to cheap blue socks worn by men, in contrast to fine white silk stockings. In the mid-1700s, these blue socks became associated with intellectuals who attended salons where female intellectuals were highly valued. Eventually bluestockings came to be a pejorative term for intellectual women, though it started out as a positive or neutral term.