A. O. Scott offers a challenge to the Yelp era, when everyone is a critic.
Is snobbery dead?
Before exploring the possible answers — Mais non! Good riddance! Who cares? — we should perhaps define our terms. The word “snob” has a contested etymology and an interestingly tangled set of uses. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (no second-rate sources here; what do you take me for?), it originated in the 18th century as a term for a shoemaker. For much of the 19th century, it was used to refer to persons of “no breeding.” According to the Oxford website, “in time the word came to describe someone with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who looks down on those regarded as socially inferior.” A pretender. A poser. A wannabe. An arriviste.