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[broun-nohz] /ˈbraʊnˌnoʊz/ Slang.
verb (used without object), brown-nosed, brown-nosing.
to curry favor; behave obsequiously.
verb (used with object), brown-nosed, brown-nosing.
to seek favors from (a person) in an obsequious manner; fawn over.
Also, brown-noser. a toady; sycophant.
Compare ass-kissing.
Origin of brown-nose
First recorded in 1935-40; brown + nose Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for brown nose
Historical Examples
  • Yes, sure enough, there was a brown nose stemming the water.

    Tommy Wideawake H. H. Bashford
  • He rubbed the tip of his brown nose, and she saw the henna stains upon his nails.

    The Garden Of Allah Robert Hichens
  • Each was coal black except for a V-shaped white mark on the breast and a brown nose.

    Camps and Trails in China Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews
  • Presently a brown nose appeared between the house and my hiding place.

    Watched by Wild Animals Enos A. Mills
  • Clay's dog put up his brown nose for a little attention, and got it.

    The Gilded Age, Complete Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner
  • But the mother, who raised her brown nose suddenly from the cool mold out of which she had been digging lily-bulbs, had seen dogs.

    The Country Beyond James Oliver Curwood
  • Miss Amber had managed to shove her brown nose in front, with Regulator at her saddle girth.

    Old Man Curry

    Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan
British Dictionary definitions for brown nose

brown nose

(vet science) a form of light sensitization in cattle


to be abjectly subservient (to); curry favour (with)
an abjectly subservient person; sycophant
Word Origin
C20: from the notion that a subservient person kisses the backside of the person with whom he or she is currying favour
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for brown nose



also brownnose, 1939, American English colloquial, said to be military slang originally, from brown (adj.) + nose (n.), "from the implication that servility is tantamount to having one's nose in the anus of the person from whom advancement is sought" [Webster, 1961]. Related: Brown-noser, brown-nosing (both 1950).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for brown nose



also brown-noser: He got there by being a pious and effective brown-nose


To flatter and pamper in order to gain approval and advantage; curry favor; apple-polish: He's just like any other person who's in a position to screw you. You gotta brown nose

[1930s+ Military academy students; fr the color of feces presumably acquired when one has one's nose at the flatteree's anus]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with brown nose

brown nose

Solicit favor obsequiously, toady. For example, Harry was always brown nosing, but it didn't help his grades. This term originated in the military in the late 1930s, where it meant “to curry favor”; it alludes to ass-kissing when the backside being kissed is less than clean. Despite its scatological origin, today this slangy term is not considered particularly vulgar.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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