hoi·​ty-toi·​ty | \ ˌhȯi-tē-ˈtȯi-tē How to pronounce hoity-toity (audio) , ˌhī-tē-ˈtī-tē \

Definition of hoity-toity

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: thoughtless giddy behavior



Definition of hoity-toity (Entry 2 of 2)

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

When Should You Use hoity-toity?

Today we most often use hoity-toity as an adjective, but before it was an adjective it was a noun meaning "thoughtless giddy behavior." The noun, which first appeared in print in the middle of the 17th century, was probably created as a singsongy rhyme based on the dialectal English word hoit, meaning "to play the fool." The adjective hoity-toity can stay close to its roots and mean "foolish" ("… as though it were very hoity-toity of me not to know that royal personage." — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge), but in current use it more often means "pretentious."

First Known Use of hoity-toity


1668, in the meaning defined above


1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hoity-toity


rhyming compound from English dialect hoit to play the fool

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Cite this Entry

“Hoity-toity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoity-toity. Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for hoity-toity



English Language Learners Definition of hoity-toity

chiefly US, informal : having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people

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