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.
- (informal) Self-important, pompous; arrogant or egotistical.
- Synonyms: bombast, hoity-toity, pretentious
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.
- highfalutin at OneLook Dictionary Search
- highfalutin in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
2003, Melvyn Bragg, “Wild West Words”, in The Adventure of English, Sceptre, page 178:
- The poor travelled on rafts which they steered with oars called ‘riffs’ – the ‘riff-raff’. […] On board the bigger boats the richer travellers were called ‘highfalutin’ because of the high fluted smokestacks that carried the soot and cinders well away from the passengers. And they gambled.