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Nothing to sneeze at and not to be sneezed at

  • Nothing to sneeze at and not to be sneezed at are phrases that were coined in relation to an idiom that no longer exists. We will look at the meanings of the terms nothing to sneeze at and not to be sneezed at, the idiom from which they were formed and some examples of their use in sentences.

    Nothing to sneeze at describes something of consequence, something important enough to be paid attention to. Originally, the term to sneeze at was an idiom used to describe something that should be held in contempt, something unimportant. In this sense, sneeze may also be interpreted as a snort of derision. By the early 1800s, the admonishment nothing to sneeze at came about. Nothing to sneeze at is the American form.

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    Not to be sneezed at also describes something of consequence, something important enough to be paid attention to. Also appearing in the early 1800s, not to be sneezed at is the British form of this idiom.

    Examples

    Correa’s sophomore season in the majors didn’t see him make the jump to light-speed stardom, but the 20 HRs, 96 RBIs, 13 steals and .274 average he produced were nothing to sneeze at, and could easily be topped in his third year. (The Sacramento Bee)

    The King William Street building was bought at a 3.65 per cent net initial yield: not astronomical, but with government bond yields coming off record lows, also not to be sneezed at. (The Financial Times)

    Welsh Conservative Mr Davies said the extra revenue was “not to be sneezed at”, but urged the Labour council to hold off charging in Mumbles before new businesses at the Oyster Wharf scheme found their feet. (The South Wales Evening Post)

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