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bluestocking

bluestocking, derisive term originally applied to certain 18th-century women with pronounced literary interests. During the 1750s, Elizabeth Vesey held evening parties, at which the entertainment consisted of conversation on literary subjects. Eminent men of the day were invited to contribute to these conversations. Hannah More, Elizabeth Montagu, and Elizabeth Carter, among others, continued this tradition. Boswell, in his Life of Dr. Johnson, states that these "bluestocking clubs" were so named because of Benjamin Stillingfleet, who attended in unconventional blue worsted stockings rather than the customary black silk stockings. In time the name bluestocking was applied solely to women of pedantic literary tastes.

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bluestocking

bluestocking an intellectual or literary woman. The term is recorded from the late 17th century and was originally used to describe a man wearing blue worsted (instead of formal black silk) stockings; extended to mean ‘in informal dress’. Later the term denoted a person who attended the literary assemblies held (c.1750) by three London society ladies, where some of the men favoured less formal dress. The women who attended became known as blue-stocking ladies or blue-stockingers.

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bluestocking

blue·stock·ing / ˈbloōˌstäking/ • n. often derog. an intellectual or literary woman.

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bluestocking

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