One who wears a distinctive gown as a mark of profession or office.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈgaʊnz mən)

n., pl. -men.
a person who wears a gown indicating office, profession, or status.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Don Quixote, then, having risen to his feet, trembling from head to foot like a man dosed with mercury, said in a hurried, agitated voice, "The place I am in, the presence in which I stand, and the respect I have and always have had for the profession to which your worship belongs, hold and bind the hands of my just indignation; and as well for these reasons as because I know, as everyone knows, that a gownsman's weapon is the same as a woman's, the tongue, I will with mine engage in equal combat with your worship, from whom one might have expected good advice instead of foul abuse.
Nonetheless, he recognizes that for many gentlemen, martial culture was a self-conscious expression meant to distinguish the swordsman (the term dates from about 1601) from the "pen-gentleman"--the courtier or gownsman, whose culture the swordsman deemed feminine.
James Austen argues that such "prejudice" is intensified by the town-gown divisions of university life-"In Oxford the wind always blows from one quarter, gownsman meet s gownsman, they strengthen each other in their own line of life, and in the contempt of what is opposite to their own" (142)- and he brings home the callousness to which it leads in a series of chilling anecdotes.