- noun a socially superior and/or wealthy person. The word dates from the middle of the 19th century and probably derives from ‘tuft’ (used of a titled undergraduate at Oxford or Cambridge who wore a decoration on his cap) rather than the later ‘toffee-nosed’. The word had an archaic ring in the 1960s and early 1970s but, like other working-class terms relating to money and status, has been revived by modern cockneys and their ‘upwardly-mobile’ emulators.
Origin & History of “toff”
Toff probably originated as an alteration of tuft (14th c.), which was used from the 18th century as an Oxford university slang term for a ‘titled undergraduate’ (students who came from noble families wore a gold tassel or ‘tuft’ on their caps). Tuft itself was adapted from Old French tofe or toffe ‘tuft’, a word of Germanic origin.