"snubbing your nose"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 10 11:49:13 UTC 2007

Please quote.


"Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote: ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society
Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject:      Re: "snubbing your nose"

Now I've found several examples of "snub [one's] nose at" = "show
disdain/contempt for", back to 1913. I can quote a few if anybody's interested.

However, the usage is apparently figurative in all the examples I've seen.

I think this is similar to figurative "thumb [one's] nose at" and also to
figurative "turn up [one's] nose at".

The literal version of "thumb one's nose at" is usually understood to be
"cock a snook at" or "put the thumb to the nose and wiggle the fingers
toward", I suppose. I don't know whether there are or have been other
gestures with similar import also called "nose-thumbing".

The literal version of "turn up one's nose at" would be -- I suppose --
"tilt one's head back at" or so. Does anybody have a better or alternative
notion? I don't know whether there is or was a variant wherein one actually
pushes his nose up/back with his hand (maybe like the Japanese "pig-nose"
gesture for "ugly").

So what would be the literal version of "snub one's nose"? One of the
above? Or something else entirely?

There's also "[nothing to] sneeze at" ... related?

-- Doug Wilson

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