Definition of donnish in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈdäniSH/


Thought to resemble or suit a college don, particularly because of a pedantic, scholarly manner.
Example sentences
  • He, after a lifetime in office, might be forgiven for expecting to have his advice taken seriously by a donnish, ineffectual Scottish peer who was chiefly known for the shapeliness of his legs and his patronage of botanists.
  • Perhaps, though, under the donnish joking they won't notice a great deal of subtlety.
  • By a donnish performance, more in the style of a school of philosophy than of an economics department, he proved the case for tax cuts, then forged an intellectual alibi for funking its implementation.
scholarly, studious, academic, bookish, intellectual, learned, highbrow
informal egghead
dated lettered



Example sentences
  • Later in this highly allusive lyric, he goes on to explain donnishly.
  • When we meet, he is wearing a buttoned up suit and one of the designer's trademark floral shirts, all the while keeping his scarf tied donnishly around his neck.
  • They seem an unlikely couple, perhaps: she, a petite, girlish 53, with a curtain of dark, waist-length hair; he, donnishly crumpled with a shock of white hair.


Example sentences
  • Whatever middle-class donnishness I inherited quickly withered as I became involved in left-wing student and anti-racist politics.
  • The donnishness at least is not illusory: he lectures in forensic medicine at the University of Turin.
  • His style is a blend of Gaelic eloquence, Harvard donnishness and American stump evangelism.

Words that rhyme with donnish

admonish, astonish

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: don·nish

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.