toff

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See also: töff and tøff

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Probably an alteration of tuft, referring to the gold tassel on the cap worn by titled undergraduates at English universities.

Noun[edit]

toff ‎(plural toffs)

  1. (obsolete) An elegantly dressed person.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Rudyard Kipling to this entry?)
  2. (Britain, derogatory) A person of the upper class, or with pretensions to it, who usually communicates an air of superiority.
    • 1913, George Bernard Shaw, “Appendix”, in Pygmalion:
      Now Freddy is young, practically twenty years younger than Higgins: he is a gentleman (or, as Eliza would qualify him, a toff), and speaks like one; he is nicely dressed, []
    • 1972, New Scientist, Vol. 55, No. 812, "A groundling's notebook" by Donald Gould
      I came home first class — up the front end with the toffs — semi-anaesthetised throughout the trip by caviar and free champagne — and to hell with frugality and the conservation of resources.
    • 1998, The Billboard, April 11th issue, page 34, Paul McCartney's remark on the right margin:
      George Martin always seemed to me to be a "toff" and a gentleman even though his roots, like many of us, were in the common people. George has a touch of class that is quite impressive.
    • 2012, How the Dice Fell, by John Roberts, page 186
      I like to see the toffs being toffs. The women all glammed up, the blokes in their tails and top 'ats, all braying and flinging their money around. Confirms all my prejudices. Just a reminder of who my enemies are.

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References[edit]

  • toff” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).