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Thumb one’s nose and cock a snook

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  • Thumb one’s nose and cock a snook are two phrases that mean the same thing. We will examine the meaning of thumb one’s nose and cock a snook, where these terms are used, and some examples of that use in sentences.


     

    To thumb one’s nose is a gesture of derision. The gesture is achieved by placing one’s thumb on his nose and extending the other fingers, then wiggling the fingers. The effect is of a cock’s comb. The act of thumbing one’s nose as an insult was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, though it has fallen out of use. Interestingly, the phrase thumb one’s nose has come into use as an idiom to mean to show contempt for something or someone, to insult someone or to disrespect someone or something. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. The term thumb one’s nose came into use at the turn of the twentieth century.

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    To cock a snook is the same gesture of derision as to thumb one’s nose, and is also used as an idiom. The origin of the phrase is unknown, as a snook is a type of small fish and seemingly has no relation to the nose. The term cock a snook came into use at the end of the eighteenth century. It is primarily a British term.

    Examples

    Leader Kim Jong Un presided over an extravagant military parade in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square yesterday, grabbing the spotlight on the eve of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea to thumb his nose at Washington. (The Macau Daily Times)

    Known for the first portion of his prolific career as a more introspective singer-songwriter type, Pope has parlayed non-traditional distribution success into broadening his sound and thumbing his nose at the industy, for better or worse. (The Houston Press)

    Given the apparent ease with which economic offenders flee India and cock a snook at the banking and judicial systems, the proposed law to seize their wealth is undoubtedly a welcome measure. (The Hindu)

    He escaped twice, the first time within a day of his capture, but even under duress managed to cock a snook at the Chinese by putting on a rosette to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. (The Yorkshire Post)

     


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