AskDefine | Define snobby

Dictionary Definition

snobby adj : befitting or characteristic of those who inclined to social exclusiveness and who rebuff the advances of people considered inferior [syn: clannish, cliquish, clubby, snobbish]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Characteristic of a snob.
    His tastes are snobby.


Related terms

Extensive Definition

A snob, guilty of snobbery, is a person who adopts the worldview that some people are inherently inferior to him/her for any one of a variety of reasons including real or supposed intellect, wealth, education, ancestry, etc. Often, the form of snobbery reflects the offending individual's socio-economic background. For example, a common snobbery of the affluent is the affectation that wealth is either the cause or result of superiority, or both as in the case of privileged children. However, a form of snobbery can be adopted by someone not a part of that group; Pseudo-intellectual is a type of snob. Such a snob imitates the manners, adopts the world-view and affects the lifestyle of a social class of people to which he or she aspires, but does not yet belong, and to which he or she may never belong.
A snob is perceived by those being imitated as an arriviste, perhaps nouveau riche or parvenu, and the elite group closes ranks to exclude such outsiders, often by developing elaborate social codes, symbolic status and recognizable marks of language. The snobs in response refine their behavior model (Norbert Elias 1983).

Historical origins

Characteristically, snobs look down on people who are part of groups that they regard as inferior or flaunt their wealth in order to make others feel inferior. Compare the points of view embodied in the informal and subjective categories of "highbrow" and its contrasted "lowbrow".
The Oxford English Dictionary finds the word snab in a 1781 document with the meaning of shoemaker with a Scottish origin. The connection between "snab", also spelled "snob", and its more familiar meaning arising in England fifty years later is not direct.
The once popular etymology of snob as a contraction of the Latin phrase sine nobilitate ("without nobility") is now discredited.
It is agreed, however, that the word "snob" broke into broad public usage with William Makepeace Thackeray's Book of Snobs, a collection of satiric sketches that appeared in the magazine Punch and were collected and published in 1848. Thackeray's definition of "snob" then: "He who meanly admires mean things is a Snob." The "mean things" were the showy things of this world, like a secretaryship in the Queen's Cabinet, where Prime Ministers invariably retired as earls.
"Suppose in a game of life— and it is but a twopenny game after all— you are equally eager of winning. Shall you be ashamed of your ambition, or glory in it?"
— Thackeray, "Autour de mon Chapeau," 1863
Thackeray had many opportunities to study snobs in action as he grew up. He was born in Calcutta, India, the only son of a Collector in the service of the British East India Company, a sphere of opportunity for Englishmen of talent whose social standing was an impediment to a career at home, but who in India could lord it like a "nabob". After his father died, Thackeray was sent home to England to be educated at the ancient and respectable though not quite stylish public school Charterhouse, and at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Reverse snobbery

Reverse snobbery is the phenomenon of looking unfavourably on perceived social elites – effectively the opposite of snobbery. For instance poorer members of society may consider themselves to be friendlier, happier or more honest or moral than richer members of the society, and middle income members of society may stress their poorer origins.
A related phenomena is where people who have worked hard to change their lives are accused of having 'betrayed their roots'.


Further reading

External links

snobby in Danish: Snob
snobby in German: Snob
snobby in Spanish: Snob
snobby in Persian: فخرفروشی
snobby in French: Snob
snobby in Icelandic: Snobb
snobby in Italian: Snob
snobby in Hebrew: סנוב
snobby in Georgian: სნობი
snobby in Hungarian: Sznob
snobby in Dutch: Snob (persoon)
snobby in Japanese: スノッブ
snobby in Russian: Сноб
snobby in Serbian: Сноб
snobby in Swedish: Snobb
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