Posted by Bob on August 08, 2003
In Reply to: SNOB posted by Lewis on August 08, 2003
: : : : : : I did not see a definition for "SNOB" in your database.
: : : : : : My understanding is that the term originated when the middle class began to emerge after the Dark Ages in Europe.
: : : : : : The Merchants/middle class (in Venice, Florence, Portugal ETC) began to rise in status with the growth in trade and commerce when the dark ages were ending. They had money when they did not have it in the past.
: : : : : : Merchants began to send their children to the Universities that were normally reserved for the children of the Nobility. To differentiate, the school's in Italy required the children to register as "Noble" or "Si Noble" (Without nobility) or "SNOB."
: : : : : I'm not a scholar of mediaeval Italian, but having read a bit of the life of painters, Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci - I don't recall it being mentioned that they registered "Nobile" or "Si-Nobile" - indeed the nobles generally hired the likes of Niccolo and Leonardo to be private tutors to their children.
: : : : : "Public schools" were established as opposed to "private tutors". I know that some cultures looked down on those "in trade" (such as the UK), but for the great trading city states like Genoa or Venice, one would not expect the rich to care whether the money was "old money" or "new money".
: : : : : I like your idea though - s'nob - without class!
: : : : : Any proof of that - such as C16th school registers with such denotions?
: : : : "Starboard Nineyards Outbound Brass"?
: : : It's widely thought, by those who think about such things, that 'snob' come from the custom of writing this word/acronym in the school roll of pupils in 18thC Enlish private schools - 'son of a nobleman'. I believe there's some documnetary evidence for this, but I may be corrected.
: : I'm more inclined to accept this one (pending, of course, real evidence) since snobbishness as a trait is far more likely to occur in a population of sons-of-nobles than in a population of those "without nobility."
: Is not snobbishness a trait of those aspiring to higher social standing rather than those who have it? (Mrs Bucket in "Keeping up appearances" being a prime example from popular culture, or so I'm told...)
: The question might be - are Prince Charles or the Sultan of Brunei snobs or is it more likely that their equerries/servants would be?
And it's a good question. I suspect the inclination to sneer at those of lesser station/intellect/standing/taste/whatever is the mark of some insecurity, some defensiveness about one's own achievements. It is said the the most swollen egos of all are assistant professors at second-rate colleges. So... the Prince and the Sultan have little need to be snobs, but those two or three steps down the o-chart are likely candidates.