Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — nobby

Good morning, Netizens...

December 06, 2012

Word of the Day

  • nobby
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NAH-bee\


: cleverly stylish : chic, smart

"[Mrs. Vance] ... reappeared, stunningly arrayed in a dark-blue walking dress, with a nobby hat to match." — From Theodore Dreiser's 1900 novel Sister Carrie

"This 'Members Only' club was where Chicago's nobbiest [people] gathered to shut out people who were not like them in order to lead the good life of golf, horses, bathing on a private beach, and social events." — From an article by Henry Kisor in the Chicago Sun-Times, November 4, 2001


"Nobby" comes from the noun "nob," which is used in British English to mean "one in a superior position in life." ("Nob" may have begun as a slang word for "head," but etymologists aren't completely sure. A possible connection to "noble" has been suggested as well.) Appearing in English in 1788, "nobby" was first used to describe people of strikingly exquisite appearance. It has since extended in usage to describe the places frequented by such people, as well as their genteel customs. Charles Dickens, for example, wrote in Bleak House (1853) of "[r]especting this unfortunate family matter, and the nobbiest way of keeping it quiet."

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.