Etymology
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ivory tower (n.)

symbol of artistic or intellectual aloofness, by 1889, from French tour d'ivoire, used in 1837 by critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) with reference to the poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), whom he accused of excessive aloofness.

Et Vigny, plus secret, comme en sa tour d'ivoire, avant midi rentrait. [Sainte-Beuve, "Pensées d'Août, à M. Villemain," 1837]

Used earlier as a type of a wonder or a symbol of "the ideal." The literal image is perhaps from Song of Solomon [vii:4]:

Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. [KJV]
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tower (v.)
c. 1400, "rise high" (implied in towered); see tower (n.). Also, of hawks, "to fly high so as to swoop down on prey" (1590s). Related: Towering.
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ivory (n.)

mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), Anglo-French ivorie, from Old North French ivurie (12c.), from Medieval Latin eborium "ivory," noun use of neuter of Latin eboreus "of ivory," from ebur (genitive eboris) "ivory," probably via Phoenician from an African source (compare Egyptian ab "elephant," Coptic ebu "ivory").

It replaced Old English elpendban, literally "elephant bone." Applied in slang to articles made from it, such as dice (1830) and piano keys (1818). As a color, especially in reference to human skin, it is attested from 1580s. Ivories as slang for "teeth" dates from 1782. Black ivory was ivory burnt and powdered, used as a pigment (1810); the sense "African slaves as an article of commerce" is attested from 1834.

Mr. Dunlap then asked the witness what he himself traded in, when on the African coast, and he replied "sometimes in black ivory;" but, being more closely pressed to explain what he meant by "black ivory," he admitted that when he could not get a cargo of real ivory, he took one of slaves. ["Trial of the Twelve Spanish Pirates," Boston, 1834]

Related: Ivoried; ivorine.

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tower (n.1)
Old English torr "tower, watchtower," from Latin turris "a tower, citadel, high structure" (also source of Old French tor, 11c., Modern French tour; Spanish, Italian torre "tower"), possibly from a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean language. Meaning "lofty pile or mass" is recorded from mid-14c. Also borrowed separately 13c. as tour, from Old French tur; the modern spelling (1520s) represents a merger of the two forms.
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tower (n.2)
"one who tows," 1610s, agent noun from tow (v.).
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Eiffel Tower 
erected in the Champ-de-Mars for the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889; at 984.25 feet the world's tallest structure at the time. Designed by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923).
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clock-tower (n.)

"tower containing a clock," usually a large one with dials exposed on all four sides, 1757, from clock (n.1) + tower (n.). Older words for this were clocher (14c., from Old French), belfry.

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chryselephantine (adj.)

of ancient statues, "overlaid with gold and ivory," 1816, probably via German, from Latinized form of Greek khryselephantinos, from khrysos "gold" (see chryso-) + elephantinos "made of ivory," from elephans (genitive elephantos) "elephant; ivory" (see elephant).

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watchtower (n.)
also watch-tower, 1540s, from watch (v.) + tower (n.).
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cryselephantine (adj.)
1827, from Greek khryselephantinos "of gold and ivory," applied to statues overlaid with gold and ivory, such as Athene Parthenos and Olympian Zeus.
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