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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