Toffee-Nosed – Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

What does toffee-nosed mean? Is it even an actual word? Oh, I assure you, it most definitely is, as silly as it sounds. Back in the day, it was used to make fun of certain people. Let’s take a peek at where it originated from and how you should be properly using it today.

Toffee-Nosed Meaning

Toffee Nosed Origin Meaning

No, it’s not someone who dipped their nose in toffee. When someone calls you toffee-nosed, they mean you’re stuck up or act like you’re above everyone else. Basically, it’s slang for “you’re a snob.”

It’s not super common over here in North America and is more widely used in the UK, even though it originally came from Australia.

Is Toffee-Nosed Hyphenated?

Yes, according to most dictionary sources like Collins Dictionary, you should have a hyphen between the words toffee and nosed because it’s a single adjective.

Origin of the Term Toffee-Nosed

Toffee nosed Ngram
Toffee-nosed usage trend.

There are a couple of viable sources for the root of this phrase. The first one is from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, when poor children would make fun of the wealthier kids because they could afford things like toffee candies and such.

The more widely supported origin of toffee-nosed still comes from the observation of the wealthier class in how they’d have brown drips on the tip of their nose after “taking a snuff,” aka tobacco.

Some say it also has connections to the English army in WW1 in reference to the trenches from an article about the slang used in the war. The entry stated: toffee-nosed. Stuck up. Trenches.

Other Ways to Say Toffee-Nosed

Oh, there are many ways you could call someone toffee-nosed. Try some of these synonyms if you don’t feel like using the term.

  • Stuck up
  • Hoity toity
  • Rich arse
  • Wealthy twit
  • Arrogant person
  • Pretentious
  • Supercilious person 
  • Superior
  • Snob
  • Snobbish
  • Arrogant

Toffee-Nosed Examples in a Sentence

With a strange term like this, it’s best to see it in the context of a sentence. Here are a few to give you a better idea of how to use the adjective toffee-nosed.

  • Don’t go out with him; he’s just a toffee-nosed twit. You can do better than him.
  • Peter is such a toffee-nosed know-it-all and a total teacher’s pet.
  • We don’t hang out on that side of the park. That’s where the toffee-nosed crowd hangs out and makes snide remarks at us mundane folk.
  • I’m so tired of all these toffee-nosed creeps who keep messaging me online. We have nothing in common.
  • I can’t believe I dated that toffee-nosed jerk; he always acted like he was better than me.
  • Take your money, you toffee-nosed snob, and get out of my shop!
  • I can’t be friends with someone like you; you’re one of those toffee-nosed rich types; our worlds just don’t mix.

Don’t Act Toffee-Nosed

You don’t need to be rich to act like someone who’s toffee-nosed. You just have to be stuck up and treat others like they’re lesser than you. But who wants to be that person, right? At least now you understand what the adjective means. You won’t hear it much in North America but might come across it in the UK and Australia.

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