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is there any difference between "snoop around" and "stick one's nose in other people's affairs" as opposite to "mind your own business"? Is it possible to say politely "I would like not to snoop around" to indicate that I'm not going to insist on my participation = make smb's life hard this way?

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Firstly, let's look at these idioms:

(The idiom) 'snoop around' action is intentionally done in order to find something secret or something about someone's personal life. The Free Dictionary describes it.

On the other hand, mind your own business is used when you don't want someone to ask or interfere about or in your personal life/affair. EnglishClub describes this with examples.

Stick one's nose in other people's affair means to interject one's self into another person's affairs. Implies that the interjection is unwanted -- OnlineSlangDictionary. As a side note, I have come more across poke someone's nose into.... as an alternative to this idiom.

Now your question:

The difference is snoop around is often carried out secretly generally to spy on someone or know the truth. If you snoop on a person, probably you are a detective and trying to find out the truths in that someone's life. A snooper is someone who makes uninvited inquiries into the private affairs of others. On the other hand, if you stick your nose in my life, you are trying to interfere in my life/personal affair. You are unnecessarily involving yourself in my matter. This could be someone's nature but the former one is not.

I'll try with examples:

I'm having doubts. I'll pay you for this. Just snoop around on my wife and find out who she's meeting every day.

Sure, you're good friends my wife. But let her make decisions on her own. Why do you stick your nose into her professional life? She's more capable enough to make a decision without your help.

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  • I agree that snooping around tends to be more clandestine, while sticking your nose in someone else's affairs tends to be more open. There is some overlap between the two, but I wouldn't call them interchangeable.
    – J.R.
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:40
  • @J.R for your edit - Cannot I say, "I have a doubt" if the doubt is only about meeting someone out of my knowledge? No doubts?
    – Maulik V
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:40
  • If you're feeling suspicious about something, that's generally expressed in the plural with doubts. I'll leave it that that here, but really, the question in your comment here probably deserves to be its own question on ELL. It's a good one. (If you don't ask it later today, I might even ask it myself.)
    – J.R.
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:45
  • @J.R. In India, it's quite clear. If I have a doubt, I have a doubt and if there are several things ruining my mind, I have doubts. In fact, then we say I have many doubts!
    – Maulik V
    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:50
  • Yes, but the tricky part is trying to quantify how many doubts you are having. Your sample sentence makes it sounds like the speaker suspects his wife may be in an adulterous relationship. If that were my wife, it would be hard to say that I have one and only one doubt about the situation; that's why I think the sample sentence is improved by using the plural.
    – J.R.
    Jun 17, 2014 at 9:13

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