Writing for Business

Mar 13 2013   1:20PM GMT

Do you turn your nose up or down?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
According to some analysts, the main reason people turned their noses ___ at the Zune media player was that Microsoft just isn’t considered cool.

a. up
b. down

Answer: a.

Turn up your nose at has a similar meaning to look down your nose at — both mean to show disdain, although the latter is usually means showing disdain for other people, whereas you might use turn up your nose at to express a lack of appreciation for Brussels sprouts.

Turn down your nose at is a commonly mixed metaphor combining elements of both expressions. Mixed metaphors are one type of malaphor — metaphors gone wrong. OK, malaphor is not yet a dictionary-sanctioned word — but maybe it should be.

Throw Grammar From the Train explores the turn-up-your-nose-or-turn-it-down issue.

The Malaphor King collects prime examples of mangled metaphors.


Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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