[ broun-nohz ]
/ ˈbraʊnˌnoʊz /

verb (used without object), brown-nosed, brown-nos·ing.

to curry favor; behave obsequiously.

verb (used with object), brown-nosed, brown-nos·ing.

to seek favors from (a person) in an obsequious manner; fawn over.


Also brown-nos·er. a toady; sycophant.
Compare ass-kissing.

Origin of brown-nose

First recorded in 1935–40; brown + nose Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for brown-nose


/ slang /


to be abjectly subservient (to); curry favour (with)


an abjectly subservient person; sycophant

Word Origin for brown-nose

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

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