"snubbing your nose"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue May 8 18:01:26 UTC 2007

On May 7, 2007, at 3:55 PM, Doug Wilson wrote:

> 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.

another possibility: snubbing one's nose involves snubbing (that is,
showing disdain) by means of a head gesture involving the nose -- in
particular, tilting the head back so that you're literally looking
down your nose at someone.

so the question is what gesture is referred to by the expression.  of
course, this might be different gestures for different people.


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