snook, cock a

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Openly show contempt or disrespect for someone, literally by placing one hand so that the thumb touches one's nose and the fingers are spread out, in order to express contempt. The expression, recorded from the late 18th century, is of obscure origin. Suggestions as to the origin of the gesture include a mimicry of the erect comb of a fighting cock or the making of a grotesque nose in reference to the long-nosed effigies that are part of folk tradition in many cultures.

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