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In British English slang, a toff is a derogatory stereotype for someone with an aristocratic background or belonging to the landed gentry, particularly someone who exudes an air of superiority.[citation needed] For instance, The Toff, a character from the series of adventure novels by John Creasey, is an upper-class crime sleuth who uses a common caricature of a toff – a line drawing with a top hat,[citation needed]

In Australia this is known as monocle, bow-tie and cigarette with a holder – as his calling card. Hoorah Henry has a similar meaning.[citation needed]


The word "toff" is thought to come from the word "tuft", which was a gold tassel worn by titled undergraduates at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.[1][2][3][4][5] The Anglo-Saxon word "toforan" has a meaning of "superiority".[6] It is possible the derivation of "toff" is earlier than is generally supposed.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford 1969
  2. ^ "toff". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  3. ^ "toff". The Free Dictionary. 
  4. ^ "toff". 
  5. ^ "toff". 
  6. ^ Albert Jack. (2011.) It's a Wonderful Word: The Real Origins of Our Favourite Words, Random House, p. 151.