- cocking a snook
- The most common name for the gesture formed by holding the thumb to the tip of the nose and spreading the fingers. Sometimes varied by waggling the fingers, or by adding the second hand (a 'double snook'). Also called 'taking a sight', 'cocking a snoot', or the 'Shanghai gesture', its meaning ranges from mocking to rude, although in the present day its use is considered childish. Unlike most gestures, cocking a snook is found, with a similar meaning, across the whole of Europe. The gesture is described in the writings of Francois Rabelais in 1532, but its first known unmistakable depiction is in La Fete des fous, a drawing by Pieter Brueghel of 1560. It is not clear how far back the gesture dates in England. References are relatively common in England in the 19th century, almost always referring to schoolboys, and Hone (1832: 33) writes that it 'suddenly arose as a novelty within the last twenty years among the boys of the metropolis'. A correspondent in N&Q (5s:3 (1875), 298), however, gives a reference to a 1702 publication, The English Theophrastus.■ Morris, 1979: 25-42; Archer Taylor, The Shanghai Gesture (FF Communications No. 166, 1956); N&Q, 5s:2 (1874), 166, 234, 255-6, 299; 5s:3 (1875), 39, 119, 298, 376; correspondence in The Times (9-23 July 1936).
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
Look at other dictionaries:
snook — see *cocking a snook … A Dictionary of English folklore
cocking of a snook — noun A disrespectful gesture; a snook. Syn: thumb ones nose, five fingered salute See Also: cock a snook … Wiktionary
snook-cocking — Adj. Showing contempt. From cock a snook … English slang and colloquialisms
cock a snook at — phrase to deliberately do something that insults someone or that shows a lack of respect for someone or something He was cocking a snook at politicians’ lifestyles. Thesaurus: to insult or offend someonesynonym Main entry: snook * * * cock a… … Useful english dictionary
cock a snook — also cock snooks phrasal to thumb one s nose < cocking a snook at the establishment > … New Collegiate Dictionary
cock a snook — British, old fashioned to show that you do not respect something or someone by doing something that insults them. In the end he refused to accept his award, cocking a snook at the film industry for which he had such contempt. (usually + at) … New idioms dictionary
cock a snook at — to deliberately do something that insults someone or that shows a lack of respect for someone or something He was cocking a snook at politicians lifestyles … English dictionary
cock a snook — phrasal or cock snooks also cock a snoot : to thumb the nose an unmannerly upstart cocking snooks at venerable men Adrian Bell in the Highlands where they traditionally cock a snoot at rationing laws John Calder * * * … Useful english dictionary
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