Cocking a snook

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Penyafort

Senior Member
Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
There is a mocking gesture used in several countries, usually by schoolchildren, which consists of putting yout thumb on the tip of your nose and wiggling the other fingers, sometimes joing the other hand too by touching the thumb with the little finger of the first hand.

In English, the name for this action seems to be to cock a snook, I don't know why.

In Catalan, we call it fer pam i pipa ('do palm and pipe'). I guess it must come from the fact that the hand is spread (a palm) and maybe the pipe is due to the shape and movement adopted.

Do you know if the gesture is or was common where you're from? If so, is there a name you know for this in your language?
 
  • I think it's called «κοκορίκο» [kɔ.kɔˈɾi.kɔ] (neut.) or «κοκορίκος» [kɔ.kɔˈɾi.kɔs] (masc.) --> little rooster, in Greek, probably named after the resemblance between the gesture and the bird's comb < ΜοGr masc. noun «κόκορας» [ˈkɔ.kɔ.ɾas] (colloq.) --> rooster, cock, onomatopoeia from the rooster's crow.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    It is a very interesting thread indeed. I am not as good in folklore to say if it is common in Hungary but when I was a child we preferred something different. We made a gesture of donkey ears. I have the feeling cocking a snook is from the West. But I am not sure.
     

    Welsh_Sion

    Senior Member
    Welsh - Northern
    Welsh and English have the same sort of expression: bodio'ch trwyn ar rywun = thumbing your nose at (W. 'on') someone

    'snook'
    seems to have an unkown etymology.
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    In Romanian, the exact word for the gesture is "tiflă"
    The expression is "a da (cuiva) cu tifla" = to give (someone) the [described gesture].
    Schoolchildren used to to it a lot when I was young. I think they tend to post negative comments on the classmate's Insta story now. :rolleyes:

    The dictionary says it's from the Greek τύφλα, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but in some obscure expressions that I personally haven't heard or read anywhere ever (but exist in the dictionary) "tiflă" can mean blind luck so I guess that's why?
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    In English, the name for this action seems to be to cock a snook, I don't know why.
    A little bit more information here:
    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.
    Thumb one’s nose and cock a snook Idiom Definition – Grammarist

    Under the link there's also information about the similar expression "to thumb one’s nose".
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    A little bit more information here:
    Thumb one’s nose and cock a snook Idiom Definition – Grammarist
    Under the link there's also information about the similar expression "to thumb one’s nose".
    Interesting link. To thumb one's nose at someone is the only expression I have heard of. Nowadays children do it and it's innocent. Otherwise the expression is a colorful way to say to disdain something. I don't think I would be able to understand the meaning of the other expression "to cock a snook".
     

    swift

    Senior Member
    Spanish – Costa Rica (Valle Central)
    Are we talking about the infamous pied de nez? I only know the French expression for this. :oops: The Spanish equivalents: palmo de nariz and pito catalán (Argentina, Uruguay) can be found in our French-Spanish dictionary: pied de nez. I have never heard any of these in use in Costa Rica.
    1594688772987.png

    Image source: stock.adobe.com
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Thanks everyone!

    In Italian we have the word maramèo (o maramào), which is an onomatopoeic voice referring both to the gesture and to the word uttered while making the gesture. It might be a regional term, so I'm not sure how extended it is.

    More info here: maramèo in Vocabolario - Treccani
    That's a cool one! I can even identify with that form, because marrameu is also what a cat does in Catalan. :)

    I think it's called «κοκορίκο» [kɔ.kɔˈɾi.kɔ] (neut.) or «κοκορίκος» [kɔ.kɔˈɾi.kɔs] (masc.) --> little rooster, in Greek, probably named after the resemblance between the gesture and the bird's comb < ΜοGr masc. noun «κόκορας» [ˈkɔ.kɔ.ɾas] (colloq.) --> rooster, cock, onomatopoeia from the rooster's crow.
    Indeed, I was also thinking about the rooster's comb as you were saying it. Cool one too!

    Are we talking about the infamous pied de nez? I only know the French expression for this. :oops: The Spanish equivalents: palmo de nariz and pito catalán (Argentina, Uruguay) can be found in our French-Spanish dictionary: pied de nez. I have never heard any of these in use in Costa Rica.
    Honestly speaking, I don't know how to call it in Spanish either! It's one of those things I've only heard in Catalan throughout my life.

    Wow, hadn't heard about that pito catalán used in Rioplatense, so funny!
     

    TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    The Spanish Wikipedia page for "cocking a snook" (Pito catalán - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre) confirms what swift said:
    Pito catalán es el nombre que se da en Argentina y Uruguay (1) al gesto de burla consistente en llevar el pulgar de la mano a la nariz mientras se agitan los otros dedos extendidos. También se puede hacer con las dos manos, uniendo el pulgar de la segunda con el meñique de la primera.

    (1) La descripción morfológica del “pam i pipa” indica que opera con la mano abierta, a modo de abanico, delante de la nariz. En Argentina y Uruguay se conoce como el “pito catalán”.
    However, it does not say what it is called outside of Argentina and Uruguay. I'm kinda curious to know what Spanish speakers outside of Catalonia would call it.

    The same page also redirects to the page Palmo de narices - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre, which says (underline mine):
    Un palmo de narices, con dos palmos de narices o por dos palmos de narices son expresiones populares que en la lengua castellana tienen un significado de frustración, chasco o desaire, expresada en frases como "se fue y me dejó con un palmo de narices" (o sea 'plantado', compuesto y sin novia, o en suma, sin 'conseguir el objetivo que pretendía')


    [...]

    Este sentido de haber sido burlado o decepcionado se ha asociado —en algún caso— al gesto físico de burla que consiste en extender la palma de la mano ante la nariz tocándola con la punta del pulgar. De uso común en muchos países, su origen ha sido rastreado en iconografía tan antigua como la de la ciudad de Pompeya, cuyos niños, según Alfred Delvau, ya conocían este gesto.
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Finnish: näyttää pitkää nenää "to show long nose". Kids still use the gesture and the verbal expression is also used.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Any kind of mocking gestures in Macedonian is known as кривење (krívenje) or кривадење (krivádenje).
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The gesture is familiar to me, although I cannot say I've ever seen it with my own eyes. It seems that it's simply called "длинный нос" (dlínnyi nós, i.e. "a long nose"), which you can "show" (inf. perf. "показать", pokazát') to somebody, as with most other gestures.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Are we talking about the infamous pied de nez? I only know the French expression for this. :oops: The Spanish equivalents: palmo de nariz and pito catalán (Argentina, Uruguay) can be found in our French-Spanish dictionary: pied de nez. I have never heard any of these in use in Costa Rica.
    However, it does not say what it is called outside of Argentina and Uruguay. I'm kinda curious to know what Spanish speakers outside of Argentina and Uruguay? would call it.
    ¿Hacer tururú?
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    So both Finnish and Russian say 'to show a long nose'. Kind of literal so it makes sense and I guess other languages might also say it like that then.

    ¿Hacer tururú?
    Hmmm. To me that word is indeed an onomatopoeia for mocking someone, usually when negating something, but I don't associate it with that gesture at all, rather with a variety of gestures, if with any. I don't know if other Spanish speakers may agree with me.
     
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