Fanciful extension of up +‎ -ity/-ety, an extended form of -y; compare biggity and hippity (and possibly also persnickety, pernickety).[1][2] First attested around 1880 in Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris to describe Jack Sparrer (Jack Sparrow), who tattled on Br'er Rabbit (see quotations below). Compare uppish.


  • IPA(key): /ˈʌpəti/
  • (file)


uppity (comparative uppitier, superlative uppitiest)

  1. Presumptuous, above oneself, self-important; arrogant, snobbish, haughty.
    • 1881, Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings; the Folk-lore of the Old Plantation[1]:
      "Hit wuz wunner dese yer uppity little Jack Sparrers, I speck," said the old man; "dey wuz allers bodder'n' longer udder fokes's bizness
  2. Exceeding one's station or position, assuming prerogatives to which one is not entitled.
    • 1993, David Weber, On Basilisk Station (Sci-Fi), Paperback edition, →ISBN, page 141:
      The Association was openly committed to "restoring the historical balance of power intended by our Founders" between the nobility and the uppity commoners []

Usage notesEdit

  • This term has historically been used in America to describe black people who were considered to be acting above "their place", and is considered by some to have racist connotations when applied to black people and other people of color; sometimes, arrogant or presumptuous, invoking the same idea, are used as codewords for it.[3][4][5]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ uppity” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. ^ uppity”, in Merriam–Webster Online Dictionary.
  3. ^ Dionne Wright Poulton, It’s Not Always Racist ... but Sometimes It Is (2014), page 107
  4. ^ John Ridley, How Bad Is 'Uppity'?, November 16, 2008, NPR
    Elspeth Reeve, Yep, 'Uppity Is Racist, November 22, 2011, The Atlantic
  5. ^ C. S. Parker, M. Q. Sawyer, C. Towler, A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE?: The Role of Racism and Patriotism in the 2008 Presidential Election, in the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, vol. 6, issue 1 (2009)
    A Reyes, "Racist!": Metapragmatic regimentation of racist discourse by Asian American youth, in Discourse & Society (2011)