Laurence Le Quesne had a habit when at Shrewsbury School of exclaiming "ni" as he scoured the library for books.
The quirky trait amused his pupils, who happened to include a certain Michael Palin.
He used it as a basis for the famous scene in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Today Mr Le Quesne spoke about the connection, adding that he was flattered and amused.
He admits he could not remember saying "ni" despite being reminded of it many times – and his wife Mary recognising it as a habit he sometimes brought home.
Mr Le Quesne, of Shrewsbury, joked: "I must have done it. A lot of people have told me so, so it must have happened."
Palin has confirmed the connection and praised Mr Le Quesne as a "great teacher".
He added: "He was very encouraging and taught us to think for ourselves. He used to dance around the shelves, picking out books and going 'ni . . . ni'. He eventually became the inspiration for The Knights Who Say Ni."
Mr Le Quesne also speaks of his connection to old pupils who later became leading lights in the world of comedy and satire.
They include Willie Rushton, who he says was "one of the most entertaining people I have ever known".