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Definition of highfalutin


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high·fa·lu·tin or hi·fa·lu·tin  audio  (hf-ltn) KEY  also high·fa·lu·ting  (-ltn, -ltng) KEY 

ADJECTIVE:
Informal
Pompous or pretentious: "highfalutin reasons for denying direct federal assistance to the unemployed" (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).

ETYMOLOGY:
Origin unknown
Regional Note:
H.L. Mencken, in his famous book The American Language, mentions highfalutin as an example of the many native U.S. words coined during the 19th-century period of vigorous growth. Although highfalutin is characteristic of American folk speech, it is not a true regionalism because it has always occurred in all regions of the country, with its use and popularity spurred by its appearance in print. The origin of highfalutin, like that of many folk expressions, is obscure. It has been suggested that the second element, -falutin, comes from the verb flutehence high-fluting, a comical indictment of people who think too highly of themselves.


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