Open main menu

Wiktionary β

See also: town-and-gown




town and gown (uncountable)

  1. (chiefly Britain, idiomatic, sometimes capitalized) On one hand, the members of the city, borough, or similar community near a university and, on the other hand, the students and faculty of the university itself, especially when understood as rivals in a state of tension or conflict.
    • 1856, William Makepeace Thackeray, "Codlingsby" in Burlesques:
      [H]owls, curses, flights of brickbats, stones shivering windows, groans of wounded men, cries of frightened females, cheers of either contending party as it charged the enemy from Carfax to Trumpington Street, proclaimed that the battle was at its height. In Berlin they would have said it was a revolution, and the cuirassiers would have been charging, sabre in hand, amidst that infuriate mob. In France they would have brought down artillery, and played on it with twenty-four pounders. In Cambridge nobody heeded the disturbance—it was a Town and Gown row.
    • 1919, Booth Tarkington, chapter 14, in Ramsey Milholland:
      Everybody was quiet now, both town and gown; the students were at their dinners and so were the burghers.
    • 1920, Arthur Quiller-Couch, On The Art of Reading, Lecture V—"On Reading for Examinations":
      [T]he first archives of this University were burned in the ‘Town and Gown’ riots of 1381 by the Townsmen.

Usage notesEdit

  • Often hyphenated (town-and-gown) when used attributively, as, for example, in:
1880, Andrew Lang, Oxford: Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes, Ch. 2: The Early Students:
In ten minutes the town bell at St. Martin's was rung, and the most terrible of all Town-and-Gown rows began.