"snubbing your nose"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 10 21:37:24 UTC 2007

"Tilt one's head back so as to look down one's nose at"?


On 5/9/07, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at nb.net> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> 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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