some footnotes to recent postings

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Jan 25 16:44:03 UTC 2002

Mark A Mandel questions whether "cocking a snoot" isn't
properly "cocking a snook".  Actually, neither phrase is in my active
vocabulary, and I may have been mistaken.

Douglas G. Wilson suggests a possible association with one's hand-
position while using a sextant: It has been 30+ years since I read his
book, but as I recall Prof. Taylor's conclusion, it was that the
gesture could not be documented before relatively recent times, perhaps
the beginning of the 19th C., and that he supposed that it was a parody
of a military salute, which, it seems, also came into use relatively
recently.  In "anecdotal" support of this supposition, my father, when
in his cups -- not an infrequent state of affairs -- would sometimes
give a brisk salute to no one in particular, then cry, "Ah, but don't
turn your head", turning his head toward his right shoulder as he
spoke, which changed the salute into a nose-thumbing gesture.  He was a
veteran of the WWI army.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

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