Ivory tower


      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

      • detached from reality
        Describe someone who is out of touch with the real world or who has unrealistic or impractical ideas

    Examples of Ivory tower

    • The scientists in their ivory towers have developed a groundbreaking theory that has yet to be proven in the real world.

      This idiom refers to academic or intellectual experts who are disconnected from the practical realities of everyday life. In this example, it suggests that the scientists are working in an idealistic and isolated environment, detached from the practical applications and testing needed to validate their findings.

    • The CEO, ensconced in his ivory tower, failed to see the impact of his decisions on the company's employees and customers.

      Here, the idiom highlights the idea that a person in a position of authority can become removed from the everyday realities and concerns of the people affected by their decisions, leading to a lack of empathy and understanding.

    • The university's ivory tower policies have created a campus culture that prioritizes academic performance over student wellbeing.

      In this example, the idiom underscores the idea that academic institutions can prioritize theoretical knowledge and intellectual pursuits over practical issues and human needs, a disconnect that can lead to insensitivity and lack of focus on student welfare.

    • The artist, holed up in her ivory tower, insisted on following her own vision despite criticism and commercial considerations.

      Here, the idiom underlines the concept that creative individuals can become absorbed and isolated in their own creative vision, sometimes to the detriment of practical concerns like commercial appeal, criticism, or other people's opinions.

    • Sally, a literature professor, spent most of her time in her ivory tower, immersed in theories and academic discourse, rarely interacting with the real world.

      The phrase "ivory tower" is commonly used to describe a place of intellectual and academic isolation, detached from the practical and real-world issues. In this example, Sally's academic focus and detachment from practical matters makes her appear as if she is working in a wooden tower made of ivory, a symbol of academic and intellectual privilege that separates her from the outside world.

    • The administration's ivory tower policies, disconnected from the actual needs of the students and faculty, have led to a breakdown in communication and trust.

      This idiomatic expression is used to criticize university officials who are perceived as disconnected from the practical issues affecting their institutions. The implication is that these officials, like Sally in our first example, live in an ivory tower, a place of intellectual and academic privilege that separates them from the real-world challenges faced by the university's stakeholders. These officials' policies and decisions appear as if they are disconnected from the realities of the university's functioning, which creates problems in the communication and trust between these officials and other stakeholders.

    • The board members are so high up in their ivory tower that they have lost touch with the needs of the common people.

      This phrase is used to express frustration with authorities who are perceived as being out of touch with the needs and concerns of the general populace. The board members, in this case, are so elevated or privileged that they appear to be living in an ivory tower, cut off from the concerns and issues faced by ordinary citizens. This detachment from the real-world problems facing the people they are supposed to serve results in policies that are not practical, effective, or beneficial to those they are meant to serve.

    • The director's ivory tower vision for the project was too abstract and impractical to be executed.

      This expression is used to critique the overly theoretical and abstract vision of a project or proposal that lacks practicality or applicability. The director's ivory tower vision, like the ivory tower from which it originates, appears as if it is too removed from practical realities, making it unrealistic, impractical, or unworkable. This idiom highlights the need to balance intellectual and theoretical arguments with practicality and applicability in project planning and execution.


    The idiom "ivory tower" can be used to discourage someone from a particular course of action by cautioning that it will not lead to any positive outcome. It can also be used to describe someone who is detached from reality, often with unrealistic or impractical ideas.

    Origin of "Ivory tower"

    The origin of the idiom "ivory tower" can be traced back to the 19th century, when it was first used to describe the detachment of intellectuals and academics from the practical concerns of everyday life. The term "ivory tower" is a metaphor for a place of seclusion and isolation, often associated with the world of academia. It suggests a sense of being removed from the real world, with a focus on theoretical or impractical pursuits. The idiom has since evolved to encompass a broader meaning, encompassing anyone who is out of touch with reality or has impractical ideas. For example, someone may be accused of living in an "ivory tower" if they have unrealistic expectations or fail to understand the practical implications of their ideas. Overall, the idiom "ivory tower" continues to be used to describe a disconnect from reality and impractical thinking.