What's the origin of this hand signal?

[sub]No, not flipping the bird.[/sub]

What’s the origin thumbing one’s nose? Does it even have a traceable origin?

I don’t know. Could it be related to biting one’s thumb (mentioned in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

Possibly related to these two gestures is a French one. Place your thumbnail behind your front teeth, and flip it forward, making a little snapping noise. This means, roughly, “That’s so stupid, it makes my teeth hurt!”

Thumbing one’s nose (hold the open hand in front of the face with the thumb touching the end of the nose, and wiggle the fingers) is a gesture of disrepect or flauting. I don’t recognize biting the thumb, unless it’s the supressed-lust thing we see in the intro to “Laverne and Shirley.”

Cecil’s column on the subject: What’s the origin of “the finger”?.

Oops, should have actually read the OP. :smack:

I had an English teacher who told us it was a grevious insult in Shakespearean times basically meaning you are a cock/ rooster/ male chicken by imitating the comb over the beak. It was supposedly the equivalent of today’s middle finger salute.

I have no idea if it is true now I think about it but it made sense to me at the time.

Those wacky Frenchmen. I tried it. Now my teeth and my thumb hurt.
From the phrase finder forum: http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/13/messages/1474.html

It also mentions Shakespeare, though I don’t believe that’s the origin.

FWIW, in German it’s called “eine lange Nase machen” (to make a long nose).
Maybe related: The “Nyah Nyah” tune: Where did it come from? and Where does “neener neener neener” come from?

Why do you sing “nyah-nya-nya-nyah-nya” while you do the nose thing, or rather why do you do the nose while you sing? Was it a gesture used in playing “Ring around the rosie”? The nose coming from children in a “you can’t catch me” game sounds like a good theory. But true?