Thumb their noses

Discussion in 'English Only' started by AnneClaire, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. AnneClaire Senior Member

    Korea and Korean
    I don`t think I quite understand this phrase..
    `So while college students may have been the first ones to thumb their noses at societal mores by moving in with a lover, today even some grandoparents decide it`s the way to go.

    What`does it mean by `thumb their noses at societal mores`??

    Please let me know..
    You'd be appreciated greatly.
  2. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    Hmmm. How to explain.

    To thumb one's nose at someone or something is actually the verbal description of a hand gesture that has been around a long time. In short, it means to "reject" or "refuse." I believe at one point in time, it was considered much more vulgar than it is today (similar to today's "flipping off" and/or "giving the finger.")

    In the US, one does not see the actual hand gesture (which I've described below) very often, but rather sees the phrase, "they thumbed their nose at..." as a colorful means of expressing the idea "to refuse to bend to conventional wisdom and/or obey."

    The hand gesture (there are two gestures, I believe):

    Gesture Number One:
    1. Put your hand into a small fist, with the thumb sticking out. :thumbsup:
    2. Place the soft part of your thumb against the underside of your nose (the cartilidge between the two nostrils).
    3. "Flick" your thumb up.

    Gesture Number Two
    1. Spread all of the fingers out on your hand;
    2. Place the soft part of your thumb agasint the underside of your nose;
    3. Wiggle your fingers.

    :warn: NOTE: Use extreme caution with these gestures as they may still be considered very vulgar in some countries.
  3. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    To thumb one's nose at smth - to shun smth, express scorn or ridicule

    Societal mores (pronounces more-ayes) - strong morals, customs, or norms held by society

    The phrase above means that even though college students were the first to reject the rules set by society by moving in with their boy/girlfriend, some older adults are doing it, too.

    Is this clear, Anne?
  4. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I don't understand the "so while (yattayatta) even..." construction, or the contrast or implied contradiction it conveys. It seems we're supposed to be shocked, shocked.

    Aren't the "college students" who first started cohabiting without regard to marriage paperwork, and the "grandoparents" doing the same thing today-- the same people?
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ~~ Chuckle ~~
    I had to read it a few times before I got the point:eek:

    Some time ago I found a website that included pictures and short video files of many international gestures, including nose-thumbing. Unfortunately I have lost the link - and once again I have failed to find the site.
  6. Derringer Member

    USA, English, Portuguese, German, Latin
    When I was a kid, this meant "kiss my a$$."

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