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cock a snook

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Thumb one's nose, as in As soon as the teacher turned her back, the boys cocked a snook at her. This expression was first recorded in 1791 and the precise source of snook, here used in the sense of “a derisive gesture,” has been lost. It is more widely used in Britain but is not unknown in America.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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