thumb the nose

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 15 14:45:17 UTC 2010

Good one.  How about the rudder of a ship.  so when one thumbs their nose, they imitate a ship showing it's rudder to you, which means "Ha ha, I'm ahead of you,loser."  Everybody hold up a right hand with verticle index finger and laterally extended thumb for an "L".

I first thought "longship" was a mergeword ~merjwerd for "long lasting relationship", but it's a boat.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL7+
see phonetic spelling

> Date: Sat, 15 May 2010 10:24:54 -0400
> From: medievalist at W-STS.COM
> Subject: Re: thumb the nose
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Amy West
> Subject: Re: thumb the nose
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 5/15/10 12:00 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
>> Date: Fri, 14 May 2010 19:05:16 +0100
>> From: Robin Hamilton
>> Subject: Re: thumb the nose
>>>> I remember it as "cocking a snoot".
>>>> DanG
>> All this possibly goes back to an original West Germanic root (of "snoot",
>> "snout", "snook", and "nook") whose existence can only (now) be inferred
>> from later recorded cognate forms.
>> But I'm outside my territory here -- if Amy West is listening, she'd
>> probably be able to clarify this.
> Sorry, and you better get used to disappointment: I'm not an
> Indo-Europeanist or etymologist.
> Here's an entirely light-hearted and completely fraudulent and crackpot
> suggestion: it obviously derives from the Old Norse "snekkja" -- meaning
> a light, fast longship. The extension of the thumb and pinky forwards
> and backwards obviously imitates the stem and stern of a Viking Age
> ship, with the waggling fingers imitating a luffing sail. This sign was
> brought over by the Norse who settled Bangor, Maine -- the lost
> settlement of Norumbega -- in the 1200s and 1300s and was used as a sign
> within their group. A related handsign is the fingers-waggling under the
> chin "high sign" used in another lost-settlement group, "The Little
> Rascals."
> I think just variation within English can account for the snoot, snook,
> snout variants. [For the German cognate, Schnauze, according to the ety
> in my Wahrig it's from Middle Low German "snut(e)", although there's a
> Middle High German relation. I haven't got a Kluge for the real dirt.]
> --
> ---Amy West
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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