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an institution for the promotion of literary or scientific learning.
a library or reading room.
(initial capital letter) a sanctuary of Athena at Athens, built by the Roman emperor Hadrian, and frequented by poets and scholars.
Historical Examples

If he kept tight hold upon himself he felt he might get to the athenaeum before—before anything more happened.
Soul of a Bishop H. G. Wells

Rex is the popular ball, the affair of the people, and is held in the athenaeum.
The Mardi Gras Mystery H. Bedford-Jones

The chief resurrectionist was one Abraham Hay-ward, known as a teller of salacious stories at the athenaeum.
Bygones Worth Remembering, Vol. 1 (of 2) George Jacob Holyoake

He now bought the London athenaeum, which, though just born, was dying.
The Crow’s Nest Clarence Day, Jr.

If you should hear who writes in the “athenaeum” I wish you would tell me.
The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume II (of II) Charles Darwin

His will (undated) was printed in the athenaeum for the 1st of February 1890.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 10, Slice 3 Various

“The Church is not a thing like the athenaeum Club,” he cried.
The Ball and The Cross G.K. Chesterton

In the athenaeum Allen Cunningham made an effort to be appreciative and sympathetic.
Robert Browning Edward Dowden

At the athenaeum and in political society he to some extent succeeded to the position of Croker.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 13, Slice 1 Various

Georgie says you want to know the verdict of the ‘athenaeum.’
The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1 of 2) Frederic G. Kenyon

an institution for the promotion of learning
a building containing a reading room or library, esp one used by such an institution
(in ancient Greece) a building sacred to the goddess Athena, esp the Athenian temple that served as a gathering place for the learned
(in imperial Rome) the academy of learning established near the Forum in about 135 ad by Hadrian

1727, from Latinized form of Greek Athenaion “(the temple of) Athene,” in ancient Athens, in which professors taught and actors or poets rehearsed. Meaning “literary club-room or reading room” is from 1799; “literary or scientific club” is from 1864.


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