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Snob

Posted by ESC on August 09, 2003

(See original discussion on Aug. 7-8.)

SNOB - "In British slang of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a shoemaker was commonly called a 'snob,' a word whose earlier history we do not know. The use of 'snob' for a cobbler still survives in a number of dialects in England, especially in the southern counties, and the Royal Navy continues (or did at least into the 1950s) to call the repairers of its shoes 'snobs,' with no offense intended or taken. But the snob's position in other levels of society has changed a great deal. Perhaps because the shoemaker's trade was considered to be a typical working-class calling, by 1831 the cobbler had given his name to the whole of the lower classes.But even then 'snob' was being transformed from a mere designation of membership in the lower classes into a label for that sort of vulgar and tasteless person who tries without success to seem 'refined.'.Now the snob has become completely classless. His social standing may be as impeccable as he thinks it is, his attitude of superiority rather than his actual rank defines him." From "The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories: Fascinating Stories About Our Living, Growing Language " (Merriam-Webster, Springfield, Mass., 1991).