Green’s Dictionary of Slang

brown-nose v.

[SE brown + SE nose, one achieves this coloration by ‘kissing arse’]

(orig. US milit.) to play the sycophant, to curry favour, to toady; thus brown-nosing n. and adj.

[US] ‘Citadel Gloss.’ in AS XIV:1 Feb. 25/1: brown nose, v. To curry favor, especially for rank.
[US]N. Mailer Naked and Dead 542: They think I brown-nosed and there ain’t a goddam bit of truth in it.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 642: Expecting some of them to come squat on his bunk and start brownnosing him now he had made coporal.
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 51: Did ol’ brown-nosing Brown let me play without that pressure.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 129: Dont try and brown-nose me Mike. He aint cuttin no stainless.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Short Timers (1985) 160: We all brown-nose the lifers.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 12: A lot of blokes, no doubt trying to brown-nose their way into my good books.
[US]M. Petit Peacekeepers 67: Get out of here you brown-nosing bootlicker.
[Aus]G. Disher Paydirt [ebook] ‘Mr Trigg, there are procedures. Long service to the Liberal Party, and so forth.’ Trigg wanted to say, And old money. And brown-nosing.
[UK](con. 1918) P. Barker Eye in the Door 201: Hang on a minute. I didn’t come here to brown-nose you or your fucking friend at the War Office.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 250: I wasn’t into brownnosing.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] After brown-nosing some spotty assistant manager [...] we were given a uniform.
[US](con. 1960s) G. Washington Blood Brothers 134: ‘Maybe you stay close home with girl, now, and let real soldiers fight, no?’ said the brown-nosing major.
[UK]Guardian G2 25 June 6: People like me don’t get things like that. I haven’t brown-nosed enough.
[Aus]T. Winton Turning (2005) 137: He said he wasn’t the brown-nosing sort.
[Scot]T. Black Gutted 96: You know cracks . . . must have brown-nosed enough of them.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 325: That brownnosing punk. The hell does he care about jurisdiction?
[Ire]L. McInerney Blood Miracles : ‘You’ll keep brown-nosing to your mafia buddies as I direct it’.
[Aus]G. Disher Kill Shot [ebook] [I]nterviews with heavy-duty people today [...] busy brown-nosing.