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The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: high-·hat·ted, high-·hat·ting, high-·hats
Informal To treat in a condescending or supercilious manner.
ADJECTIVE: Snobbish; haughty.
greenhand's version of high-hat is a direct translation from Chinese. When you overly flatter someone else, especially your superiors, you put a high-hat on their head, making them look taller than they are.
well, it actuall comes from a joke as following. Just wandering if it's a native people's writing though i understand it quite well
One day a graduate student went to see his teacher. He had just got an important job and now was coming to say good-bye to him. The teacher asked him how he would behave among the high officials。The graduate said, " I will be all right. I have prepared a hundred' high hats', one for each official I meet. I am sure I will succeed. " The teacher became angry at the words. "What!" he cried. " Is this what I have been teaching you for the past ten years? Nothing but a mean flatterer!"" Forgive me, honored master!" the student rose to his feet and apologized hurriedly. "But you have always been interested in your studies only and do not know vulgar the world has come to be. There are few men in the world who are behaving honestly like you." "There is something in what you said," the teacher sighed , nodding his head. So they parted on the best of terms, with the graduate's total number of "high hats" being one less.