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Etymology 1[edit]

1790, tip (apex) +‎ -y. Sense of “clever” may be influenced by tip (n., inside information).


tippy (comparative more tippy, superlative most tippy)

  1. (obsolete, colloquial or slang) Fashionable, tip-top.
    • 1806, Kitty Crotchet, “The Bootees—A New Song”, in The Port Folio, v 2, Philadelphia: John Watts, p 76:
      Of all the gay beaux, / That sport their smart cloathes, / There's none that my fancy can please, / With their Spencers or Crops, / Or woolly Foretops, / Like Bob with his Tippy Bootees.
  2. (obsolete, colloquial or slang, absolute, with the) In the height of fashion, excellent, cool.
    • 1802, “Ladies Literature”, in New England Quarterly Magazine, v 2, Boston, p 225:
      I underſtand, however, that there is a diſtinction between theſe names in the city and St. James's; in the latter place you may find faſhion in the characters of the ton, the taſte, the etiquette, &c. in the city they are all the tippy, the thing, the ſort, &c. and pretty things they are, Heaven knowns! [sic]—with a ſort of a cane, which being twelve inches long, one blow of an Iriſhman's ſhillalagh would drive twelve yards away.
    • 1806, The Port Folio, v 2, Philadelphia: John Watts, p 143:
      The wig's the thing, the wig, the wig, / Be of the ton a natty sprig, / The thing, the tippy and the twig, / Nor heed who are the truly wise, / For after all, in vulgar eyes, / The wisdom's in the wig.
    • 1808, Thomas Morton, “A Cure for the Heart Ache”, in The British Theatre; or, A Collection of Plays, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, p 10:
      Rent! you boor!—That, for Sir Hubert!—[Snapping his Fingers.] Ah! Nabob's servants be the tippy—Every thing be done by them so genteely.
    • 1845, “The Frog and the Fox”, in The New Monthly Magazine and Humorist, London: Henry Colburn, p 371:
      As neither of them said “No,” he opened the will, and found that the old lady had left all the accumulated scrapings of a long life of industry to her son William, to aid his “great abilities” in promoting the honour of the family. [. . .] “That'll do, Smugs,” said Bill, and then turning to his brothers, he observed. “Just the tippy, for I was cleaned out. [. . .]”
  3. (colloquial or slang) Clever, neat, smart.
    • 1863 [1910], Early Letters of Marcus Dods, D.D., p 344:
      She read Renan's Vie de Jésus, and I am now going to lend her the antidote—a tippy little bit of criticism by Pressensé.
  4. Of tea, having a large amount of tips, or leaf buds.
    • 1886, T.C. Owen, The Tea Planter's Manual, Colombo: A.M. & J. Ferguson, pp 49–50:
      Before rolling some planters are in the habit of sifting the leaf through a No. 4 sieve, and manufacturing the small leaf and tips that fall through separately. This will add to the appearance of the tea, by making it more tippy, but unless fancy teas are being made will not pay for the time and trouble incurred.


tippy (plural tippies)

  1. (obsolete, colloquial or slang) A dandy.
    • 1798, “Whimſical Peculiarities of Expreſſion”, in The Monthly Magazine and British Register, v 6, London: R. Phillips, p 173:
      Is his dreſs, as we may preſume it will be, elegant; exhibiting no articles of apparel but ſuch as are “All the rage?” he is “Quite the tippy.”

Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

1886, tip (knock over) +‎ -y.


tippy (comparative more tippy, superlative most tippy)

  1. (Canada, US) Tending to tip or tilt over; unstable.
Derived terms[edit]


For quotations of use of this term, see Citations:tippy.