Alteration of high-fluting. In his book, The Adventure of English, Melvyn Bragg records that in a nascent America, when the well-to-do travelled by steamboat, said passengers were referred to as highfalutin due to the high fluted funnels on the boats. Compare riffraff. Another speculation connects the term with high-flighting/-flying.
- (US, informal) Self-important, pompous; arrogant or egotistical.
- It's only a matter of time before some highfalutin developer builds a huge hotel and ruins the scenery.
- That one Cajun that moved to Austin is too highfalutin to come back to Livingston Parish. He's over there with that mean bread lady!
- His speech was very highfalutin.
- Said of people and writing.
- (archaic) Pompous speech or writing.
1865, Benn Pitman, The Assassination of President Lincoln: And the Trial of the Conspirators, page 43:
- Don't write so much highfalutin next time.