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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. 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, monocle, bow-tie and cigarette with a holder – as his calling card.
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. The Anglo-Saxon word "toforan" has a meaning of "superiority".
- Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford 1969
- "toff". Online Etymology Dictionary.
- "toff". The Free Dictionary.
- "toff". WordReference.com.
- "toff". Dictionary.com.
- Albert Jack. (2011.) It's a Wonderful Word: The Real Origins of Our Favourite Words, Random House, p. 151.
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