Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Informal Taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one's station; presumptuous: "was getting a little uppity and needed to be slapped down” ( New York Times).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Presumptuous, above oneself, self-important; arrogant, snobbish, haughty.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. presumptuously arrogant

Etymologies

From up.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Fanciful extension of up. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • They start cursing what they call "uppity Catalans," accusing Barcelona - the capital of Catalonia - of turning the world against bullfighting.

    NPR Topics: News

  • So when Olbermann asks Obama to respond to an ugly use of the word uppity, Obama just laughs when we expected anger.

    Linda Bergthold: The War of the Lizard Brains

  • What are people actually saying when you hear the word uppity in association with Senator Barack Obama?

    CNN Transcript Jul 31, 2008

  • "I think the word uppity was invented so they'd have something to call you."

    Homebody

  • We've already seen "uppity" - are we going to see some Repub drop an N-bomb before the end, with others jumping in to legitimize it as part of the political discourse?

    TPM Track Composite: Obama Ahead By Six Points

  • As I mentioned in my pre-election article, one southern politician even called him "uppity" -- and then denied that that had a racial connotation.

    Sasha Abramsky: The Long Exhale

  • Or called him "uppity" -- on at least two occasions.

    Archive 2008-01-01

  • As Ron Christie demonstrates in his recent book, Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur, the notion that blacks who sought social, cultural or intellectual advancement were "acting white" was a slur that originated during slavery and Reconstruction as a way for whites to keep down so-called "uppity" blacks.

    The Racial Biases of Duke Hating

  • Meanwhile Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland calling the Obamas "uppity" -- a slur that is one more downed beer away from being nigger -- barely got a register out of the left.

    John Ridley: Obama Gets Tough. Too Little, Too Late?

  • And as her husband is already well into a well-funded campaign to keep his job - the country's first African-American President has become the Yankees of American politics - he does not have an asset better than his wife, who somehow is still called "uppity" by slobs in the media who laugh and say it is just a word instead of the cheap racial insult that it is.

    NYDN Rss

Comments

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  • "My, but aren't you getting uppity an' all?" The Shack by WM Paul

    October 1, 2010

  • You're right, of course. I'd rather publicly call the man stupid than a blatant racist, but as you said... He knew what he was saying.

    I forgot about the term dog-whistle. Thanks for reminding me. I'm sure it will come in handy in the coming weeks. (Sadly.)

    September 7, 2008

  • "Uppity" is a code word in the same vein as states' rights and family values. Westmoreland knew exactly what he was saying and exactly who he was saying it to. A dog-whistle if there ever was one.

    September 7, 2008

  • Ohhh... so maybe he really is that ignorant. *facepalm*

    Thanks for the info, lampbane.

    September 7, 2008

  • As Stephen Colbert pointed out last night, this is the same Congressman who pushed to have the Ten Commandments displayed in state courthouses and even in the House and Senate, but when asked by Colbert to list the Commandments (on the Better Know a District segment), he could name only three.

    September 7, 2008

  • Referring back to skipvia's comments below... If a Georgia congressman raised in the segregated South truly has no idea of the racist connotation of using the word "uppity" in reference to African Americans... I can't really imagine that he didn't know, or he'd be too ignorant to be holding office.

    But then, looking at his record (as reported in the same article), it's hard to believe he really "meant no offense." ("...last year ... he led opposition to renewing the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He also was one of two House members last year who opposed giving the Justice Department more money to crack unsolved civil rights killings.") Great work, congressman.

    September 7, 2008

  • Georgia GOP congressman calls Obamas `uppity' (AP/September 5, 2008)

    Democrats are calling on a Republican congressman from Georgia to apologize for referring to Barack and Michelle Obama as "uppity," but the lawmaker stood by his comments and said he meant no offense.

    Speaking to reporters Thursday, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Grantville, Ga., described the Obamas as members of an "elitist-class ... that thinks that they're uppity," according to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

    Asked to clarify whether he intended to use the word, he said, "Yeah, uppity."

    In a statement Friday, Westmoreland — a white man who was born in 1950 and raised in the segregated South — said he didn't know that "uppity" was commonly used as a derogatory term for blacks seeking equal treatment. Instead, he referred to the dictionary definition of the word as describing someone who is haughty, snobbish or has inflated self-esteem.

    September 7, 2008

  • Growing up in the South during the 50s and 60s was a unique cultural experience, yarb. We had separate "white" and "colored" store entrances, drinking fountains, theaters, and waiting areas--all clearly marked as such.

    July 18, 2008

  • Int'restin'. I wouldn't have connected this word with race at all. I remember as a kid, there was a Mr Man called Mr Uppity.

    July 18, 2008

  • An illiterate and somewhat vitriolic blog post I read today, in which the author calls Jesse Jackson an "uppity busybody," reminded me that I have rarely heard this word when it didn't apply specifically to African-Americans. Growing up in the US south, I was taught that there were two kinds of African-Americans--uppity ones and those who knew their place ("humble" being the code word that was most often used).

    Interesting post, coming from a blog that describes itself as "A conservative journal of social, cultural, and ecclesiatical affairs grounded in a realistic Catholic Christian worldview. It is my hope that this site will be a reflection of Christ, the teachings of His Holy Church, and of the basic vision of a Christian social morality."

    July 18, 2008