Origins of Common Words - Snob

About the history, origins, and definitions of the common word snob.

UNCOMMON STORIES BEHIND COMMON WORDS

Snob - Some people believe that William Makepeace Thackeray coined snob to describe George IV; they say he derived it from the abbreviation s. nob., by which colleges indicated students who were not of noble birth--sine nobilitate. But the word goes back to 18th-century North English dialects, when it meant a cobbler or cobbler's apprentice. Similarly, Cambridge University students called the local townspeople snobs. By the early 1800s, snob referred to any member of the lower classes, and shortly thereafter, to a person associating with others of greater social importance. And while not so colorful as the Thackeray story, the semantic shift is certainly plausible. Today, snob commonly means "one who has an offensive air of superiority.

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