What Does Brown Noser Mean?

Brown Nose Meaning

Definition: To give someone excessive praise and compliments in order to gain that person’s favor.

This expression has a negative connotation. Someone who does a lot of brown nosing is called a brown noser.

Origin of Brown Noser

This expression originated in the first half of the 1900s.

A similar expression is to kiss ass, or for a person, ass kisser. To brown nose actually developed from the expression to kiss ass. The idea behind this is that if a person is literally kissing another’s rear end, their nose would be brown from being near the other person’s anus.

While it has crude origins, this term is not considered vulgar in the Modern English, although it does carry a negative connotation. A similar expression is a suck up.

It is common to hear someone say, “No one likes a brown noser.”

Examples of Brown Noser

meaning of brown nosingTwo friends are discussing a problem that one of them is having at his new job.

Kira: Hey. Any updates about your new job?

Dan: No, it’s still terrible.

Kira: Sorry. Is your boss still making you do every little thing for him?

Dan: Yes, and he expects me to agree with everything he says and does. The other people in the office all make fun of me for being a brown noser.

Kira: I’m sorry. That sounds awful.

Dan: It’s true. I need to find a way to keep my job without being so obsequious.

what does brown nose meanThe following example involves two women who are volunteering to help build houses for poor people.

Gertrude: Ruby, I heard you complimenting the lead volunteer.

Ruby: Okay. So what?

Gertrude: I know you are only complimenting him because you want him to give you special treatment. I didn’t think you would brown nose like that.

Ruby: I was just trying to be nice. There’s no need for you to accuse me of being a sycophant.

Gertrude: If you don’t want anything special in return, how come you aren’t that nice to everyone?

Ruby: I am that nice to everyone! I’m only not nice to you because you’ve been so rude to me the whole trip.

More Examples

This excerpt is an article about entertainment news and gossip.

  • Don’t miss comic beauty Lué McWilliams in Chris Widney’s short, smart play “Pithy,” about parents who brown-nose a prep school headmaster to get their “deviant” son admitted. New York Daily News

This excerpt is from an article on personal branding.

  • Every few years we hear about some new way to brown-nose better than anyone else and say or be anyone you think the business world would like you to be.  Forbes


The term brown noser and the phrase brown nosing describes trying very hard to gain favor from someone (usually a boss or a person in a higher position of power) in order to be rewarded.