tug (one's) forelock

(redirected from tugging his forelock)

tug (one's) forelock

To show excessive deference toward someone in a superior position. An allusion to the former act of pulling one's frontmost hair in lieu of having a hat to tip. I hate being in meetings with the CEO because then I have to witness all of the regional managers tugging their forelocks like fawning sycophants.
See also: forelock, tug

tug your forelock

BRITISH
If someone tugs their forelock, they show a lot of respect to someone in a high social position. I don't know how you can stand bowing and scraping and tugging your forelock to all those rich old crones. Note: You can also say that someone touches their forelock. A lot of people seem to think we're supposed to go round touching our forelock and scraping our heads against the floor. We're not. Note: You can refer to this kind of behaviour as forelock-tugging or forelock-touching. The idea of forelock-tugging is totally alien to us, as is the idea that some people are born to rule. Note: These expressions are used to show that the speaker thinks that too much respect is being shown. Note: A forelock is a lock of hair that falls over a person's forehead. In the past, it was customary for lower class people to remove their hats in front of upper class people. If they were not wearing a hat, they touched their forelock instead.
See also: forelock, tug

touch/tug your ˈforelock

(disapproving) show too much respect for a person of a higher rank or status: This is a democratic country and we don’t want people tugging their forelocks.In the past, people either took off their hats or pulled on their forelocks (= the hair above the forehead) to show respect.
See also: forelock, touch, tug
References in periodicals archive ?
Looks like this new Home Secretary is as prone to tugging his forelock at the Yanks as Tony Blair.
He was respectful but wasn't tugging his forelock to his predecessor.
Her newfound chums, of course, always contend that hunting is an egalitarian pursuit and you're just as likely to bump into a bus-driver as a minor royal - I think we can guess which one would be on the horse and which one would be tugging his forelock as he opened the five-bar gate).
On one hand he was the discreet royal flunky, almost tugging his forelock to the people who came to ask him about the Princess.
Brown, meanwhile, should stop tugging his forelock in the direction of the Premiership and promote the younger, SCOTTISH talent which is finally starting to emerge.
How often does your average fan defer to the boss of his club, metaphorically tugging his forelock as the gleaming Mercedes sweeps past into the directors' car park?