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https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2015/03/04/smell-the-glove

Smell the Glove.

Handshaking may be a chemical as well as a social greeting

GRIP firmly, maintain eye contact. What you do during a handshake is clear. But after? Research published this week suggests that humans, like other animals, use smell when they greet each other.

Noam Sobel of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel, took note of an observation made by epidemiologists in 2008 about just how often people touch their faces. Dr Sobel had a hunch that it might have something to do with the gathering of scents—and could thus bear on the question of whether human beings secrete odiferous signalling molecules, sometimes known as pheromones.

Is there a metaphor it's referencing? I can't think of any. Why is it the title of the article?

  • The full article is not readily available. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 20 at 20:52
  • You can get around many paywalls, including the one in this case (I just did it), by Googling some portion of the text, e.g. "What you do during a handshake is clear. But after? Research published this week". While many journal websites discourage direct linking to articles, they are often happy to let people access them via a Google search. – Michael Harvey Feb 20 at 22:40
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This is a reference to the mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap, where the (fictional) band has an album called Smell The Glove.

  • Since then the phrase can be heard in various contexts. – Weather Vane Feb 20 at 23:17
  • @WeatherVane: as far as I'm aware, it was never a particularly notable phrase until Spinal Tap used it. Hence, everything else is a pop culture reference to it, knowing or unknowing. – SamBC Feb 20 at 23:46
  • I'll add my vote, not because I necessarily believe that it's correct, but because I hope that it's true. If we knew whether the article is about misogyny, S/M, or heavy metal, we might be more certain. – Juhasz Feb 20 at 23:59
  • Given the subtitle, I rather suspect that the linked article is about how humans (allegedly) subconsciously make use of scent in social interactions. I suspect, from the bits people have pasted, that it's claiming that people smell their hands after shaking someone's hand, and may be assessing the person based on what they smell. The writer (or editor) was then unable to resist making the reference. – SamBC Feb 21 at 0:03
  • @Juhasz I’ve added the first couple paragraphs of the article for context. – ColleenV Feb 21 at 1:23
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There's no idiom or commonplace metaphor that involves smelling a glove.

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    I was able to look at the article probably because I block certain tracking cookies. “Research published this week suggests that humans, like other animals, use smell when they greet each other.” I think it’s a pop culture reference en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smell_the_Glove – ColleenV Feb 20 at 22:20
  • @ColleenV - When I saw the title of this question, I immediately thought of Spinal Tap. – J.R. Feb 20 at 22:31
  • Well how come I already heard of it, and my comment to that effect was deleted? The phrase can often be heard on British television, but I can't find a reference to it. – Weather Vane Feb 20 at 22:46
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    @ColleenV: It's not a mainstream idiom or commonplace figure of speech. I stand by my answer to OP's original question in that regard. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 25 at 16:24
  • Absolutely correct, which is why I up-voted your answer though some other folks seem not to like it. – ColleenV Feb 25 at 16:30

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