An oddity of language just occurred to me, and I thought I’d share. I was pondering another intended post, and the opening line that occurred to me was, “I find I am becoming an [X] snob.” At this point, I got distracted by considering the way the word “snob” seems to be changing in use.
The definition of snob, according the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, is:
1 British : COBBLER
2 : one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors
3 a : one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior b : one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste
Clearly, I was thinking more of definitions 2 and 3 here. (Snob = cobbler? We learn new things every day.) These are both familiar definitions, and both also quite negative in their connotations. But that was hardly what I really meant when I noted I was turning into a “snob” on a particular subject. I suppose it’s really more of an ironic, self-deprecatory use of the word.
There are so many kinds of snobs that people call themselves now: wine snob, music snob, car snob, book snob. You can be a “snob,” in this new sense, about pretty much anything you take enough of an interest in to have an actual opinion. Does this seem odd? Is it now so strange for people to have opinions about things they have experience with and knowledge about that we have to put ourselves down about it, turn it into a joke? Is anyone who doesn’t follow the mainstream general wisdom about something now automatically a snob? Is this another sign of the current anti-intellectualism? Then again, maybe it’s just that calling oneself an “expert” seems too exaggerated.
So what do you think? Is there a better term? And what are you a snob about?