Definition of nod in English:

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Pronunciation: /näd/

verb (nods, nodding, nodded)

1 [no object] Lower and raise one’s head slightly and briefly, especially in greeting, assent, or understanding, or to give someone a signal: he nodded to Monica to unlock the door [with object]: she nodded her head in agreement
More example sentences
  • Emily nodded slowly in agreement while kicking a box to the corner.
  • The boy nodded mutely, tears brimming in his eyes.
  • Unable to resist his charm and devastating smile, Blair nodded mutely in response.
incline, bob, bow, dip
1.1 [with object] Signify or express (greeting, assent, or understanding) in this way: he nodded his consent
More example sentences
  • Stifling another giggle, she only nods her agreement, unable to voice her assent.
  • He became quizzical yet some of them nodded their assent or what he took to be assent.
  • When I ask her about this, McTeer nods her assent.
signal, gesture, gesticulate, motion, sign, indicate
1.2Draw or direct attention to someone or something by moving one’s head: he nodded toward the corner of the room
More example sentences
  • She nodded toward a corner of the room, where five chairs sat in a semi-circle around the fire.
  • I sighed quietly and looked over at Quinn, before slipping my hand from Jordan's and nodding toward the open door.
  • ‘Oh, and look at that,’ he said, elbowing me and nodding toward a woman wearing tight ski pants.
1.3Move one’s head up and down repeatedly: he shut his eyes, nodding to the beat figurative foxgloves nodding by the path
2 [no object] Have one’s head fall forward when drowsy or asleep: Anna nodded over her book
More example sentences
  • Basic chores done, I gave up and went to sit in the kitchen, where I slumped in my chair, yawning and nodding.
  • It's quiet, the woman's out, the kid's asleep, and I am nodding over a notebook and tea, wearing fuzzy slippers.


1An act of nodding the head: at a nod from his father, he left the room
More example sentences
  • He answered my father with a slight nod, his cold eyes never leaving my own.
  • ‘Yes,’ she said with a slight nod and as she started backing slowly away.
  • Alexis returned the embrace and agreed with the slight nod of her head.
signal, indication, sign, cue;
inclination, bob, bow, dip
1.1A gesture of acknowledgment or concession: a feel-good musical with a nod to pantomime
More example sentences
  • The deodorant and all the rest is merely a nod to convention.
  • I wouldn't be offended by dubbing, since the words are nothing but a nod to convention.
  • It would indicate thoughtfulness and a nod to common sense.



a nodding acquaintance

A slight acquaintance with a person or cursory knowledge of a subject: students will need a nodding acquaintance with three other languages
More example sentences
  • Now, I would have thought that anyone who has had even a nodding acquaintance with Econ 101 would have figured that as the most natural outcome of market integration.
  • But I was hesitant to do that because, frankly, some of the news these days looks to have little more than a nodding acquaintance with reality and doesn't make any coherent sense to me at all.
  • Moderation is the inseparable companion of wisdom, but with it genius has not even a nodding acquaintance.

even Homer nods

proverb Even the best person sometimes makes a mistake due to a momentary lack of alertness or attention.
With allusion to Latin dormitat Homerus (Horace Ars Poetica 359)
Example sentences
  • Well, even Homer nods, and what Eliot gives is sufficient to evoke the lines he has in mind.
  • But even Homer nods, and so does Nabokov, and to build whole-scale interpretations on details that seem much more explicable as errors is fraught with danger.
  • But even Homer nods, and Justice White penned a Brennanesque whopper in Garner.

get the nod

1Be selected or approved.
Example sentences
  • If Mary gets the nod from the Irish selectors it will be her first Senior international and a wonderful achievement for this young athlete.
  • In fact, it even got the nod as the speculative selection in the first edition of our value newsletter.
  • Abbott filed for Food & Drug Administration approval in April and is hoping to get the nod in the first quarter of 2003.
2Receive a signal or information.
Example sentences
  • Michael Lawlor only got the nod that he was starting minutes before the game as players were put under pressure to perform.
  • As the game progressed I was itching to get a run and with eight minutes to go, I got the nod to enter the fray.

give someone/something the nod

1Select or approve someone or something: they banned one book but gave the other the nod
More example sentences
  • The Abbotstown racecourse project, which looked dead in the water when Dundalk was given the nod for Ireland's first all-weather track, is deliberately being kept alive by Horse Racing Ireland.
  • If Glasgow is given the nod over Edinburgh, it makes it more likely that tourists from eastern Scotland will have to continue travelling through to the west of Scotland for many destinations and chartered flights.
  • So far, things are looking distinctly Brokeback Mountain coloured, after the film was given the nod by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Golden Globes and the Producers Guild Of America.
approval, selection, sanction, endorsement
informal OK, A-OK, green light, thumbs up
2Give someone a signal.
Example sentences
  • But until you are given the nod, there is nothing you can do.
  • But then, about 20-30 minutes later (or however long it was - time really had no meaning to me by this stage), we were given the nod.
  • Mr Oxley said that £30,000 was already in the bank and the council had been given the nod that other funding was on the way to make up the rest of the costs.

on the nod

1British By general agreement and without discussion: parliamentary approval of the treaty went through on the nod
More example sentences
  • The item was not actually discussed but instead went through on the nod.
  • 'You never hear about the ones that go through on the nod,' he says.
  • Turning for home Vintage Storm was joined by All the Swallows and it was nip and tuck all the way to the finish with Vintage Storm winning on the nod by a head in 29.84.
2 dated On credit.
3Alternating between wakefulness and sleepiness on account of heroin use.

Phrasal verbs


nod off

informal Fall asleep, especially briefly or unintentionally: some of the congregation nodded off during the sermon
More example sentences
  • The road continues to unwind, and Frank nods off briefly, before snapping awake after a close call.
  • I ate a light breakfast and nodded off to asleep again, sleepy from the previous night's restlessness.
  • The defendant is very sorry for causing the fatal accident, Your Honour, it was unintentional, he nodded off whilst driving.
fall asleep, go to sleep, doze off, drop off
informal drift off, go out like a light, sack out, drift into the arms of Morpheus

nod out

informal Fall asleep, especially from the effects of a drug: they go to a coffee shop, get stoned, go to a club at 11, and nod out at midnight
More example sentences
  • There was a story out today, I don't know if you heard it, Nancy, is that apparently this woman is a frequent abuser of some drugs and frequently nods out and does some other things…
  • Every time he paused for dramatic effect, I was afraid he was going to nod out on the podium and start drooling on the teleprompter.
  • Sometimes when he's nodding out, and I have to leave him a note about something really heavy going down, I just clip it to a refrigerator magnet and pop it right onto that garage door opener.


Late Middle English (as a verb): perhaps of Low German origin; compare with Middle High German notten 'move around, shake'. The noun dates from the mid 16th century.

  • The word nod came into English from German. The proverb a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, now usually ‘a nod's as good as a wink’, is first recorded in a letter written in 1793. The use of a nod and a wink to mean ‘a hint or suggestion’ is first found in 1710, several decades earlier than the proverb: it seems that the ‘blind horse’ was tacked on to the original phrase for fun.

Words that rhyme with nod

bod, clod, cod, god, hod, mod, od, odd, plod, pod, prod, quad, quod, scrod, shod, squad, tod, Todd, trod, wad

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: nod

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