Slang --snob

Posted by Bruce Kahl on December 14, 2001

In Reply to: Slang --snob posted by Q on December 14, 2001

: Possibly an American euphemism, but "Hoity-Toity" (ph) is used to describe in a condescending way someone of high society-- not necessarily nobility. Anyone know where this (Minced oath) came from?

Not sure if you need help with "snob" or "hoity-toity" so here are both of them:

Main Entry: 1hoi·ty-toi·ty
Pronunciation: "hoi-tE-'toi-tE, "hI-tE-'tI-tE
Function: noun
Etymology: rhyming compound from English dialect "hoit" to play the fool
Date: 1668
: thoughtless giddy behavior

A paste from the Word Detective:


"Snob" first appeared in English around 1781 meaning, of all things, a shoemaker, or sometimes a shoemaker's apprentice. One authority (Hugh Rawson, in his book "Wicked Words") raises the possibility that "snob" may have begun as essentially the same word as "snub," which came, interestingly, from an Old Norse word meaning "to cut short." Perhaps, notes Rawson, the "snob" (shoemaker) was so called because he "snubbed" (cut) leather. Today, of course, snobs "snub," or cut short, the rest of us all the time.

Whatever its actual origin, by the late 18th century, "snob" had been picked up by university students in England, who used it to mean "townsman," as opposed to a "gownsman," or student. By the 1830s, "snob" was slang for an ostentatiously vulgar commoner, and in 1848 the novelist William Thackeray expanded the term yet further in his "Book of Snobs," where he used the term to denote a kind of grasping, pretentious social climber. And by the early 20th century, "snob" was being used in its modern sense to describe a person who derives satisfaction from disdaining those of lower social rank.