• uppity •
êp-i-ti • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Arrogant, conceited, haughty, overbearing, pretentious, putting on airs.
Notes: This word is a misconstructed and misused lexical concoction that seems to have found a cozy corner in the English vocabulary. It is misconstructed, because we don't normally derive words from prepositions or adverbs; misused because the suffix -ity is normally a noun suffix. We do have a properly marked synonym, uppish, at our disposal.
In Play: Any act of arrogance may be informally described as "uppity": "When her mother asked Gwendolyn where she was going, she became uppity and responded: 'None of your business!'" Again, on a higher level: "The Navy has another location for its interrogation camp should Castro get uppity and retake Guantanamo."
Word History: Uppity is, of course, up with a mischosen noun suffix, -ity: activity, adversity, antiquity. We find evidence of up throughout the Indo-European languages. It all began with Proto-Indo-European (s)upo "up, up from under, over". In Greek it became hypo "under" and, with an initial Fickle S, sub "under" in Latin. German turned it into auf "on". It, of course, became up in English, but also open and over. Opal comes from Greek opallios, which Greek probably from Sanskrit upalah. Upalah comes from the same ultimate source via Sanskrit upara "lower" from upa "below", since an opal is of lower value than some other gems.
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