Nose-picking is a common and well known socially condemmed habit.

However, this condemnation seems to be a purely social behavior with very little grounds on medical risks; it is even done by other species, see below.

  1. can we set a time of when it started? (10.000 BC, 0 AC, 1000 AC?)
  2. What are the first documentations of nose-picking?
  3. Did this behavior appeared independently in different cultures or was developed by one and then "imitated" by others?

Nose picking

(photo from wikipedia)

  • My question is not about when it started, but when it started to be condemned as a social behavior. Since animals also do it, it is fair to assume it started prior to Human existence. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 14:26
  • 1
    Noel Coward in his letters occasionally refers to himself as "a nose-picker like anyone else", or words to that effect, to downplay the significance of his celebrity. By that gauge the change would have occurred in the past century or so. Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


It certainly was condemned in the late Middle Ages. The Oxford English Dictionary has this delightful quotation, dated to circa 1450:

"Pike not þi nose; & moost in especial..to-fore þi souereyn cratche ne picke þee nouȝt."

In other words, "Don't pick your nose, and especially, don't scratch or pick in the presence of your sovereign."


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