Claim: The term “hoity-toity” comes from the French words haut toit, meaning “high roof.”
Example: [Berlitz, 1982]
The expression “hoity-toity,” for “pretentious,” comes from the French haut
Origins: In common English speech, “hoity-toity” is an adjective used with disdain to refer to the pretentious, those who put on a show of pretending to possess refinement and sophistication (similar to “highfalutin”). So, some people naturally assume that such an unusual expression, referring to the cultured, must itself have a cultured
upon others from atop their high roofs (i.e., haut toit).
“Hoity-toity” has nothing to do with French (or the French), however. The expression comes from our penchant for creating rhyming phrases such as “loosey-goosey” or “helter-skelter,” and in this case its base is “hoit,” an obsolete
Last updated: 22 December 2009
Barnhart, Robert K. Chambers Dictionary of Etymology. New York: Larousse Kingfisher Chambers Inc., 2000. ISBN 0-550-14230-4 (p. 486). Berlitz, Charles. Native Tongues. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1982. ISBN 0-448-12336-3 (p. 24). Room Adrian. The Fascinating Origins of Everyday Words. Chicago, NTC Publishing, 1986. ISBN 0-8442-0910-4 (p. 83).