I was bugging people at work asking them, “What does falute mean?” After about, oh, five hours, this was the result:
Pronunciation: hai-fê-lut-ên * Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: (Regional slang) 1. Highly pompous, bombastic (speech). 2. Showing off, ostentatious, pretending to be above one’s station in life, putting on airs.
Notes: The amazing thing about high-falutin’ is that is not a high-faluting word itself for it is always pronounced with a regional twang-high-falutin’. However, it has survived long enough to be treated as a legitimate word that may be pronounced standardly, high-faluting, if it makes you feel better. It may be used as an adverb with or without any doctoring: “Benny can talk as high-falutin’ as any of them.
In Play: This word is not only slang but slang used predominately in the southern US states: “Nan Tucket thinks that using high-falutin’ words will convince people that she is a high-class lady.” Although most commonly associated with speech, today’s Good Word is a home in many other contexts: “Cindy Mae Lovett hasn’t talked to any of her old friends since she started waitressing in that high-falutin’ restaurant on Nob Hill.”
Word History: Today’s Good Word is ostensibly made up of the adjective high + the participle of the verb falute. The problem with this explanation is that there is no verb falute “put on airs”! (We see this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle: “Ally Katz falutes like a millionaire philosophy professor when she goes out with men.”) It probably started out as a blend of “fly” and “salute” but that is pure speculation at this point. (Now let’s thank Kyle McDonald of RPI for suggesting today’s low-falutin’ Good Word.)
–I don’t know where it came from, and I’m not finding it online. Let me know if you know the site.