Posted by Bruce Kahl on October 10, 2001
In Reply to: Brown nosing posted by R. Berg on October 10, 2001
: : Does anyone know the origin of the term
: : 'brown nosing'? Thanks.
: Many people know its origin; the hard part is explaining it delicately. The Dictionary of American Slang labels "brown-nose" as taboo and defines it as "to curry favor with a superior." The image that generated this expression is of an underling who kisses a superior, but not on the mouth, and gets his or her nose dirty as a consequence.
This term originated in the military in the late 1930s, where it meant "to curry favor"; it alludes to ass-kissing.