What Does The Term "Toff" Mean?


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Christopher Adam Profile
The word "toff" is far more commonly used in the United Kingdom than in North America. In most contexts,"toff" is used in the form of a noun and refers to someone who is either a member of the aristocracy, the upper crust of society more generally, or anyone who is very elegantly dressed. It may also refer to someone who is very wealthy. The term may be used as an adjective in some contexts, in order to describe a toff restaurant, hotel, or another elegant establishment.

The term "toff" is, however, British slang and it probably originated during the Victorian period and was used primarily by the lower classes. As such, it is not becoming of an elegantly dressed, upper class man to call one of his peers a "toff."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair once accidentally used this term in the House of Commons in 2006. Blair was going to respond to criticism that his government was not tough enough, but the word "tough" ended up sounding like "toff," causing an outburst of laughter in the House.

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