Cocking a snook… or is it snoot?

For some reason the phrase ‘cocking a snook‘ popped into my head and i wondered if I was correct in thinking it originated from the same minor insult as thumbing your nose at someone, and if it was also connected to biting a thumb at someone, as in Romeo and Juliet:

Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: [aside to Gregory] Is the law of our side, if I
say ‘Ay’?
Gregory: No
Sampson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir,
but I bite my thumb, sir.

It seems that cocking your snook might also be sometimes ‘cocking your snoot‘… and snoot, may come from snout, and being snooty is being arrogant and disdainful… so are all these things connected?

It’s a hand to nose gesture, teasing, mocking, making fun of, a sort of ‘neahneah -ne-neahneah‘ … sort of. way. Cocking means lifting or pointing like cocking a gun; there’s a good explanation here:

The word snook might come from the Dutch snoek which means pike, the fish pike which certainly does have a very long nose! Snoot comes from snout, as i had guessed. Thumb biting is just an insulting gesture, sometimes clicking your thumbnail against your teeth… I’m not sure it would worry anyone much these days!

Thanks very much to Michael Ely who shared his photo which I’ve used as my  featured image from Wikipedia,; here is a young lad cocking a snook!

Here’s a song by a favourite singer, Kevin Montgomery, with a favourite and brilliant guitarist, Sean Snook:



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