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Statue of a street urchin on Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, performing the gesture
Stalin performing the gesture.

Cocking a snook[1] is a sign of derision made by putting the thumb on the nose, holding the palm open and perpendicular to the face, and wiggling the remaining fingers.[2][3] It is used mostly by schoolchildren[4] often combined with sticking out the tongue.

It is also known as thumbing the nose and as Anne's Fan or Queen Anne's Fan.[5]

The phrase is also used figuratively: the Oxford English Dictionary cites a 1938 usage "The Rome–Berlin axis..cocked the biggest snook yet at the League of Nations idea" by Eric Ambler in his Cause for Alarm.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cambridge University Press (2006). Cambridge Idioms Dictionary (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-86037-7.
  2. ^ McNeill, David (1992). Hand and Mind: What Gestures Reveal About Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  3. ^ 'Cock a snook' - the meaning and origin of this phrase, Retrieved at 1 January 2018
  4. ^ Cocking a snook: Boris Johnson heckled by protestor thumbing his nose but gives as good as he got, 31 October 2012, Matt Chorley, Daily Mail. Retrieved at 1 January 2018
  5. ^ Shipley, Joseph Twadell (2001). The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (reprint ed.). Baltimore: JHU Press. p. 302. ISBN 0-8018-6784-3. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  6. ^ "Snook, n.3". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 1 January 2018.