"snubbing your nose"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 9 03:37:43 UTC 2007

My experience is the same as yours, James, WRT to comic books, except
that we never actually did it, in reality. We may have even seen it in
East Side Kids / Bowery Boys movies, but I have no true memory of it,
one way or the other.


On 5/5/07, James Harbeck <jharbeck at sympatico.ca> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>
> Subject:      Re: "snubbing your nose"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >James Harbeck wrote:
> >>  (nobody thumbs their nose anymore, it seems, although it was common
> >>  enough when I was a kid,
> >How do you thumb your nose at someone? Is it with the thumb on the nose
> >and the four fingers waving, a movement of the thumb outward from the
> >nose, or something else? I don't think I ever tried to match that
> >expression to an actual gesture.
> Well, in the comic books I read as a kid, the hand is put, fingers
> splayed, with the thumb at the tip of the nose, and the fingers may
> wave, usually briskly as though tinkling piano keys. So when I did
> it, that's what we did. In fact, to express greater defiance or
> contempt, we would put the other hand in front, with its thumb to the
> tip of the little finger of the first one, and might even move the
> hands rotationally on the little-fingertip-to-thumbtip axis in
> opposite directions (which means the arms would be moving with the
> elbows going in and out sort of like in the bird dance). This was
> considered impolite but not a spanking offence -- certainly not taboo
> like giving the finger, which is what we graduated to.
> But I think there's also a version where the hand moves outward
> starting at the nose.
> There's a guy doing it in
> http://www.mosquitocurtains.com/images/jpg/low_res/adams-small.jpg .
> The motion involved, if any, isn't depicted.
> I guess the youth of today go straight to giving the finger. Perhpas
> there are other gestures that are also used. No doubt adolescent boys
> in particular prefer the wanking motion (i.e., gesturing to indicate
> masturbation), which expresses contempt towards a person or topic; at
> least one kid I knew, when wishing to express particular strength of
> opinion, would do it in a grand gesture with two hands in different
> directions, as though handling two separate sesquipedalian organs
> with a common root.
> James Harbeck.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
                                              -Sam'l Clemens
The tongue has no bones, yet it breaks bones.

                                           Rumanian proverb

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list