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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

Merriam-Webster

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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.

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hoity-toity

July 7th, 2016

Episode 578 of 720 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 7, 2016 is: hoity-toity \hoy-tee-TOY-tee\ adjective 1 : thoughtlessly silly or frivolous : flighty 2 : marked by an air of assumed importance : highfalutin Examples: "… she was by no means hoity-toity, but a thinking, reasoning being of the profoundest intellectual, or, rather, the highest artistic tendencies." — Theodore Dreiser, The Titan, 1914 "Usually Tanglewood's summer lineup is too hoity-toity for the great unwashed to care, but Beach Boys' legend and cofounder Brian Wilson performing the entire album 'Pet Sounds' is enough to give any summer concertgoer a good vibration." — Craig S. Semon, The Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), 3 June 2016 Did you know? Today we most often use hoity-toity as an adjective, but before it was an adjective it was a noun meaning "thoughtless giddy behavior." The noun, which first appeared in print in 1668, was probably created as a singsongy rhyme based on the dialectal English word hoit, meaning "to play the fool." The adjective hoity-toity can stay close to its roots and mean "foolish" ("… as though it were very hoity-toity of me not to know that royal personage." — W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge), but in current use it more often means "pretentious."

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