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KidsHealth>Kids>Kids' Talk>Where'd That Come From?>Nothing to Sneeze At
This saying, which has been around since the early 1800s, may come from the idea that someone might turn up his or her nose at something unimportant or unworthy. When you say something is "nothing to sneeze at," you're saying it's actually important. For example, coming in second place in the science fair is nothing to sneeze at. Even though you didn't come in first, second place is still an important accomplishment.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2007
sneeze sneezes sneezing sneezed
1 When you sneeze, you suddenly take in your breath and then blow it down your nose noisily without being able to stop yourself, for example because you have a cold.
What exactly happens when we sneeze?...
Sneeze is also a noun.
Coughs and sneezes spread infections.
2 If you say that something is not to be sneezed at, you mean that it is worth having. (INFORMAL)
The money's not to be sneezed at.
(c) HarperCollins Publishers.
Shaking a stick at somebody, of course, is a threatening gesture, or at least one of defiance. So to say that you have shaken a stick at somebody is to suggest that person is an opponent, perhaps a worthy one. The sense in the second and third quotations above seem to fit this idea: “nothing worth shaking a stick at” means nothing of value; “equal to any man you could shake a stick at” means that the speaker is equal to any man of consequence.
My Hostas aren't poppin up yet here in Chicago. I'm jealous!
"nothing to shake a stick at" so funny, my Grandfather used to say that. You shake a stick at something you want to go away (ex: dog) so I agree, these plants coming up are Nothing To Shake a Stick At !