Definition of non-U in English:



  • (of language or social behavior) not characteristic of the upper social classes; not socially acceptable to certain people.

    • ‘For someone who had aspirations of becoming London's top citizen, he ought to be aware that metal watchbands are non-U in the best circles.’
    • ‘Postwar exponents of ‘U and non-U’ (upper-class and non-upper-class usage) stigmatized certain words and idioms as ‘common’, and for a time in the 1950s the spotting of U and non-U terms was a kind of national game.’
    • ‘In the circles Dave moved in, to put yourself up for election would be seen as decidedly non-U.’
    • ‘Perhaps this is an inevitable overreaction to a previous state of affairs, for the study of nineteenth-century music was for many years somewhat non-U.’
    • ‘Later, Dinah and Madeleine are having a furious row in Dinah's rented rooms, when they are interrupted by the perfectly ghastly landlady, demanding the rent in her non-U voice.’
    • ‘There are even those who consider the use of ‘us’ and ‘me’ as the object, direct or indirect, to be somewhat common or non-U, whereas ‘we’ and ‘I’ are always indicators of good breeding or style.’
    • ‘As everybody knows, it is distinctly non-U to smoke.’
    • ‘Page 19 outlines in two paragraphs the essentials of good manners while dining - read it and never worry again about being U or non-U.’


1950s: from non- + U.