Monday, December 11, 2017

Etiquette and “Snobbery”

The word “Snob” crept gradually into vogue in England among the gentry, as a recognized, but permitted, slang word for a low-born, vulgar, “base mechanical” person.Thackeray applied the word to all vulgarly, pretentious persons, however high their rank or large their wealth; and this sort of snob, he said, was scattered freely through all classes of society in all countries.  

The Word "Snob"— Of words which have two clearly distinct senses in both countries, the commonly used, but yet slangish and not very pleasant, “snob” is an example. Snob crept gradually into vogue in England among the gentry, as a recognized, but permitted, slang word for a low-born, vulgar, “base mechanical” person. This sense it retained, exclusively I believe, until the appearance in Punch of Thackeray's Snob Papers, before which time it was not used and was almost unknown in this country. 

In those humorous and savagely satirical papers, Thackeray applied the word to all vulgarly, pretentious persons, however high their rank or large their wealth; and this sort of snob, he said, was scattered freely through all classes of society in all countries. “There are snobs in China,” he remarked. Had he seen Dickens’ book-plate with its crest, knowing Dickens’ origin and early habits of life, he would have called that snobbish. In this sense, the word came rapidly into vogue in the United States. Here it has, in New York at least, been subjected to yet another modification in certain circles, where it is used to mean a person who somewhat pretentiously affects the society of persons condition and wealth. – Richard Grant White in Atlantic, 1879

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia