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More noses in the dirt

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 15, 2007

In Reply to: More noses in the dirt posted by Greg on June 15, 2007

: Can anyone explain the meaning of the phrase "more noses in the dirt"?

Let's start of with just plain "noses in the dirt." From the way it's used I guess it started with some culture in which a demonstration of respect for the emperor began with a posture of abject humiliation, that is, on your knees, with your forehead knocking the ground (see kow-tow) and your nose in the dirt, so to speak. Hence, "pushing one's nose in the dirt" as inflicting humiliation on one, by means, for instnce, of showing great superiority in one respect or another. I'll give just two examples.

"Israel can rub, and has rubbed, the Palestinian nose in the dirt, confining and humiliating their leader and destroying the ministries of the Palestinian ..."

'... incinerating millions of Americans by Russian missiles through his Cuban embargo saying, "If Krushchev wants to rub my nose in the dirt, it's all over. ..."'

The phrase has been used in exactly this way thousands of times with no essential change.

"More noses in the dirt" suggests to me that an essayist is giving examples of similar humiliation.

Naturally, "noses in the dirt" is used also indicate finding yourselves on the ground in a prone position, either because of being forced into that position, or working at something with your heads close to the ground, or a figurative version of the same, working in muck or filth or doing something sufficiently like that to qualify for the phrase.