Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Toney Topic for Today

I've always found the adjective "toney" to be a mite pretentious, which fits my plebeian lifestyle. I never gave it much thought, however, until I recently read a sentence regarding a "tony" club. Being me, I got to thinking about the word itself.

Toney, or the more-common tony, simply describes something as having "tone". The tone indicated thus has nothing to do with music but with social standing. It implies an upper-crust flavor or a sense of "quality" in an aristocratic sense.

Tony has rather fallen out of favor as an adjective, so its use caught my attention. It gives a rather British air to the thing being described, at least in my perception, perhaps because the arguably-aristocratic American families tend to behave so badly, whether they are Kennedys, Hiltons, or Trumps.

In considering the word toney, I tried to recall when last I'd heard it used. I suspect that it came in an older British novel, perhaps from Agatha Christie although her stories generally did not involve such upper-crust locales. Perhaps it was in Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. If you've seen someone or something described as tony, please let me know. I would be interested to know if I'm simply not reading toney publications or if there really are fewer things deserving such an adjective.




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