"snubbing your nose"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon May 7 22:55:37 UTC 2007

I don't think "snub the nose" generally means/meant "rub"/"dab"/etc.

I think "snub" here means/meant "make snub[bed]" where the "snub[bed] nose"
is one which is short [and tilted up at the tip]. This meaning is shown
(verb "snub") in the old _Century Dictionary_, I think. There are
unequivocal old examples: e.g., try <<"snubbed his nose">> at Google Books
between (say) 1800 and 1950.

So I think "snub one's [own] nose" should mean "push the tip of one's [own]
nose back [and up]". Close enough to cocking a snook, I think, maybe: are
the waggling fingers really essential?

Several old examples of "snubbing [apparently essentially flattening] one's
nose" (against a wall or window etc.) are available.

However I don't find it clearly as a derisory gesture very far back.

Easy to imagine how the pushing of one's own nose-tip up and back MIGHT
express "I turn up my nose at that/you" or so. But I don't know whether it
ever really did.

There are old examples of "snubbing [someone else's] nose" but I can't make
out exactly whether this usually involved a push, a punch, or what.

-- Doug Wilson

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