Brown nosing

Posted by R. Berg on October 10, 2001

In Reply to: Brown nosing posted by Mary Dunn 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.