Fox-hunting is set to become illegal in England and Wales. The debate around this issue has been raging for some time and the word toff, used by some to describe those who practice the blood sport, caught my attention. This is the origin of the word according to the OED:

[Perh. a vulgar perversion of TUFT, as formerly applied to a nobleman or gentleman-commoner at Oxford.] TUFT: the gold tassel formerly worn by titled undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge
My Robert & Collins gives the following French translations: aristo, dandy.
I think aristo is the best translation here. I would only use dandy in a context where the emphasis is put on the elegant way they dress (although of course fox hunters are very well dressed, but calling them toffs is less about what they wear than about their lifestyle).
By | 2016-10-18T15:51:39+00:00 November 19th, 2004|Words|2 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Warren November 22, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    Very interesting! And in addition, take a look at this article in the Encyclopedia.
    In my youth, here in America, (in the 50’s), to
    be referred to as a dandy, (amoung us teens) was
    akin to homosexuality without being an actual
    label. I’m glad to see that it survived the
    misuse that we gave it. 🙂

  2. scarabstercus December 13, 2004 at 9:47 pm

    TOFF meant to those that did not have dictionaries, Toffee nosed, one so snooty, nose [nasus, -i;nasute] , stuck high in the air, looking along their beak [nose] and saw nothing but the foggy sky. So may-be a french idiom for above it all Like Louis or antoinette of cake fame

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