Posted by Gary Martin on June 28, 2005
In Reply to: Toffee Nosed posted by David FG on June 28, 2005
: : I was watching a television show (in the US) the other night. The program was produced in the UK. A couple were talking about a woman neighbor who suffered a slight but public embarrasment or humiliation of some kind. They said that "She got all toffee nosed about it." What does 'toffee nosed' mean and how did it originate?
: It means snobbish, conceited, uppity. I am not sure that this fits the illustration you give (I suspect that it was used wrongly in the programme.)
: Unfortunately, I have no idea where it comes from: I hope someone else will be of more help.
It may well originate from 'toff', i.e. someone stylish and well-to-do, usually upperclass.
The OED suggest that it may be a form of 'tuft' which mean nobleman. That link is rather tenuous, although it is supported by some 19th century references to 'toft' which much the same meaning.
It isn't far from toffee-nosed to stuck up, and they too may be related.
There's a nice, more recent, phrase from down under - 'sticky beak'. That doesn't appear to have any connection to toffee-nosed though, as it means nosey and prying.