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hoi·​ty-toi·​ty ˌhȯi-tē-ˈtȯi-tē How to pronounce hoity-toity (audio)
: thoughtless giddy behavior


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: thoughtlessly silly or frivolous : flighty
: marked by an air of assumed importance : highfalutin
a hoity-toity college professor
The restaurant was too hoity-toity for my tastes.

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When Should You Use hoity-toity?

Hoity-toity is believed to have been created as a rhyme based on the dialectal English word hoit, meaning "to play the fool." Hoity-toity can mean "foolish" (e.g., "… as though it were very hoity-toity of me not to know that royal personage." — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge), but it is most often used to mean "pretentious."

Examples of hoity-toity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
From the hoity-toity BAFTAs to the jovial People’s Choice Awards, the events this past week were pretty varied. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 24 Feb. 2024 And about having specific opinions about art not being some elitist hoity-toity thing. Chris Klimek, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 Dec. 2023 When the Harmonists get their big break at a hoity-toity Berlin establishment, the cast does well sending up overserious waiters, holding platters in front of their crotches for a flurry of phallic jokes. Vulture, 13 Nov. 2023 At the same time, though, the property is anything but hoity-toity. Meagan Drillinger, Travel + Leisure, 25 Oct. 2023 Besides being utterly bereft of shame, Thomas has cultivated a fake image as an Everyman, more comfortable parking his RV among the little folk in the Walmart parking lots than rubbing shoulders with hoity-toity types. Globe Columnist, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Aug. 2023 Ray Carney is motile and plastic, a self-conscious journeyman who pins his rival, Alexander Oakes, a purer member of the hoity-toity Dumas Club. Lawrence Jackson, Harper's Magazine, 10 July 2023 Hansberry’s Mavis, a racist snob and antisemite complete with coifed curls and a hoity-toity hat, stands out in sharp contrast. Rachel Sherman, New York Times, 6 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hoity-toity.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



rhyming compound from English dialect hoit to play the fool

First Known Use


1668, in the meaning defined above


1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hoity-toity was in 1668


Dictionary Entries Near hoity-toity

Cite this Entry

“Hoity-toity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoity-toity. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

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