Blue Stocking

A female pedant. In 1400 a society of ladies and gentlemen was formed at Venice, distinguished by the colour of their stockings, and called della calza. It lasted till 1590, when it appeared in Paris and was the rage among the lady savantes. From France it came to England in 1780, when Mrs. Montague displayed the badge of the Bas-bleu club at her evening assemblies. Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet was a constant attendant of the soirées. The last of the clique was Miss Monckton, afterwards Countess of Cork, who died 1840.

“ `You used to be fond enough of books ... a regular blue-stocking Mr. Bland called you.' ” -

E. S. Phelps: The Gates Ajar, chap. iv.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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