Toffee-nosed means pretentious, snobbish, arrogant. Toffee-nosed is an English and Australian term, derived from the Victorian slang, toff, used by the lower classes to describe the upper classes. The word toff is a corruption of the term tuft, which was a gold tassel worn on an Oxford cap by the sons of those peers who had a vote in the House of Lords. By the 1890s these gold tassels or tufts were no longer worn to denote a son of a peer, but the idea of toffs being arrogant members of the upper class remained. The term toff evolved into toffee-nosed by the 1920s, probably combining the idea of tuft-wearers and people who turned their noses up at people that they deemed to be inferior.


Old toffee-nosed Meitei phrases are no more music that plucks at their heartstrings. (The Sangai Express)

But for every toffee-nosed academic I’ve met, there have been plenty of humble, engaging, enthusiastic ones who love their subjects and just want to get the word out there. (The Guardian)

THE Duchess of York has told how council tenants called her a “toffee-nosed git” and shot the windows out of a community centre she had opened to help them. (The Daily Express)

You are a bit toffee-nosed and want to take your children out of the state school sector. (The Independent)

John, a neighbour who has one child at Torriano taught by Rana, said he would defend the teacher from ‘toffee-nosed’ parents who may call for her to quit. (The Daily Mail)

Forget the emotional hype about growing up/standing on our own two feet and take out the ridiculous assertions about the alleged champagne-swilling, toffee-nosed aristocrats living in palaces on the other side of the world. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered:

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