Jan, The term BLUENOSE
or BLUE NOSE
is used to describe an ultraconservative in matters of morality, a person of rigid puritanical habits, a puritan, a prude or prig. The color ‘blue’ has long been associated with conservatism and strictness, though for what reason is not entirely clear. Perhaps it is from the blue in ‘blue blood’ (1835), which is the translation of the Spanish ‘sangre azulis,’ that which flows in the veins of old and aristocratic families, although aristocracy doesn’t always imply conservatism. Another possible connection is to the ‘blue laws’–stringent restrictions on moral conduct with harsh penalties for infractions. Established by the 17th century Puritan leaders of the Commonwealth of Connecticut, the original blue laws were extreme even by the strict standards of the day. Skipping church or playing any sort of game got you fined, and if you burgled your neighbor's house on Sunday, they cut your ear off. The ‘blue’ in ‘blue laws’ meant ‘bloody,’ i.e., enforced by whipping, maiming and death, although popular legend has it that it was because they were printed on blue paper.
The term BLUENOSE
was first used (1698) as a contemptuous nickname for a native of Nova Scotia and probably derives from the name of a popular Nova Scotian potato. In later extended use it also included natives of New Foundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or broadly (and now obsolete) a Canadian.
In the U.S., the name was first applied to lumbermen and fishermen of northern New England (1830) (and later to any Northerner or New Englander) and originally referred to the color of their noses, the blue induced by long exposure to cold weather. Only later (1927) was the word applied to the aristocratic inhabitants of Boston’s Black Bay area in the sense that we know it today, possibly in alluding to their apparently ‘frigid’ manner, possibly as connected to ‘blue blood’ as I suggested above, and possibly in reference to the Puritanical folks who created the ‘blue laws.’[quote]<1927 “With a lot of blue noses on the Board, . . . this concession was not secured without great diplomacy.”--H. C. BROWN ‘In Golden Nineties’ by H. C. Brown, v. page 187>
Ken G – March 14, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)