Share this entry

nose Syllabification: nose

Definition of nose in English:


1The part projecting above the mouth on the face of a person or animal, containing the nostrils and used for breathing and smelling.
Example sentences
  • As air is inhaled, the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth warm and humidify the air before it enters the lungs.
  • Liquid leaks out of the blood vessels, making the mucous membranes lining the nose and throat to swell, and stimulating nearby gland to produce mucus.
  • The nose and nostril openings also should be as symmetrical as possible.
informal beak, snoot, schnoz, schnozzola, sniffer, honker
1.1 [in singular] The sense of smell, especially a dog’s ability to track something by its scent: a dog with a keen nose
More example sentences
  • A strange musk disguised the Knights' scent from the keen nose of the werewolf.
  • The presence of the jungle was sensed through the nose.
  • It was a strong smell; she did not need to use any ability other than her nose to sense it.
1.2 [in singular] An instinctive talent for detecting something: he has a nose for a good script
More example sentences
  • He had a nose for poetic talent; indeed there was a current myth that Tambi only had to put his hands on a manuscript to know if the poems were any good or not.
  • Yes, he's the heart and soul of the Pats' defense and a true playmaker who has incredible instincts and a nose for the ball.
  • Ronay has a nose for talent and was an early champion of Marco Pierre White and Raymond Blanc.
instinct, feeling, sixth sense, intuition, insight, perception
1.3The aroma of a particular substance, especially wine.
Example sentences
  • This is another reason on why one should appreciate the nose of a wine.
  • An exotic Lebanese assemblage of Sauvignon and muscat, this crisp, complex wine has a nose of light apricot and white flowers.
  • It's a deep, dark wine with a great nose, prune and plum flavours with a hint of oak.
2The front end of an aircraft, car, or other vehicle.
Example sentences
  • Special art was applied to the nose and the aircraft received the name California Boomerang.
  • Don't be afraid to use the rudder at the last second before touchdown to put the nose exactly in front of you.
  • The nose undercarriage was sheared off and one blade of the propeller was bent back underneath the nose of the aircraft.
nose cone, bow, prow, front end
2.1A projecting part of something: the nose of the saddle
More example sentences
  • Positioning the nose of the saddle downwards may relieve your initial discomfort but it may cause long term pain.
  • But they shouldn't be so short that the nose of the saddle rubs on bare skin.
  • For starters it keeps the nose of the saddle straight in situations where other shockers twist and shout.
3 [in singular] A look, especially out of curiosity: she wanted a good nose around the house
More example sentences
  • The dog clambered up onto the counter and stood there with a paw on each side of my bag and had a good old nose around.
  • Then have a good nose around looking for stolen goods.
  • In a spirit of festive spookery, I've been having a nose around the venerable story of the Campden Wonder.
3.1 informal A police informer.


Back to top  
1 [no object] (Of an animal) thrust its nose against or into something, especially in order to smell it: the pony nosed at the straw
More example sentences
  • There is even a shot of a suitably feral-looking dog nosing through ripped bin bags tossed onto the streets.
  • There's his amusing shot of the neighbourhood barber at work as the neighbourhood goat noses about.
  • Half a mile to the north, a scattered herd of fallow deer nosed at the snow-covered roots of wide-spaced, scraggly trees sprouting from the rubble of an ancient landslide.
nuzzle, nudge, push
1.1 [with object] Smell or sniff (something).
Example sentences
  • After pouring a finger of your chosen whisky, briefly nose the glass.
  • The bear proceeded rather deliberately to nose the hotel's telegraph key before walking out the front door into the night.
  • You should nose it, taste it, add water, nose it again, taste it again.
2 [no object] Investigate or pry into something: I was anxious to get inside and nose around her house she’s always nosing into my business
More example sentences
  • This will stop Mrs Jones, your next door neighbour, who works as a cleaner in your local GPs, nosing into your health records and telling Mrs Smith, your other neighbour, about them.
  • I think I'll nose around a bit and see if there's any work for me.
  • How Clean Is Your House gave us yet another opportunity to nose around other people's abodes.
pry into, inquire about/into, poke around/about, interfere in/with, meddle in/with;
be a busybody about, stick/poke one's nose in/into
informal be nosy about, snoop around/into
2.1 [with object] Detect by diligent searching.
Example sentences
  • She opened her eyes and headed up King St, peering into cafes as she passed, twitching her nostrils like a sniffer dog, nosing out the secret stash of illicit nectar that would, of course, be the momentary answer to all her problems.
detect, find, discover, bring to light, track down, dig up, ferret out, root out, uncover, unearth, sniff out
3 [no object] (Of a vehicle or its driver) make one’s way cautiously forward: he turned left and nosed into an empty parking space
More example sentences
  • With first gear engaged, and the second gearstick that controls the transfer box set to Low, the car noses down the sheer slope with amazing assurance.
  • Technically speaking, it gives a warden free rein to issue a ticket as soon as the car noses into the bay.
  • Every Sunday the long-bowed, canvas-canopied church boat nosed from dock to dock gathering the faithful.
ease, inch, edge, move, maneuver, steer, guide
3.1(Of a competitor) manage to achieve a winning or leading position, especially by a small margin: they nosed ahead by one point
More example sentences
  • Team-mate Muller then nosed ahead of Neal in the sprint to the finish line for third.
  • This week's first position was secured by Ken Goddard, a newish member of the seniors, who nosed ahead of John with a score of 40 points.
  • When second seed Vietnam nosed ahead of India ‘A’ at the finish, the home team had only itself to blame.


Old English nosu; related to Dutch neus, and more remotely to German Nase, Latin nasus, and Sanskrit nāsā; also to ness.

  • The Latin root of nose is nasus, which is the source of our word nasal (Middle English), and is also related to ness (Old English), meaning a headland or promontory. A nostril (Old English) is literally a ‘nose hole’. In Old English the word was spelled nosterl or nosthyrl, and came from nosu ‘nose’ and thyrl ‘hole’. Nozzle was originally an early 17th slang form of ‘nose’. To cut off your nose to spite your face was proverbial in both medieval Latin and French, and has been found in English since the mid 16th century. Since the 1780s a nose has been a spy or police informer. The idea of such a person being a ‘nose’, or ‘sticking their nose in’, is also found in words such as nark and snout, and in nosy. The first nosy parker appeared in a postcard caption from 1907, ‘The Adventures of Nosey Parker’, which referred to a peeping Tom in Hyde Park. Nosy itself goes back to 1620, in the sense ‘having a big nose’, and to at least the 1820s in the sense ‘inquisitive’. The common surname Parker was originally a name for the caretaker of a park or large enclosure of land.


by a nose

(Of a victory) by a very narrow margin.
Example sentences
  • In addition to his debut victory by a nose, Act One scored in the Prix Thomas Bryon by three lengths on October 15 at Saint Cloud.
  • Tarlow, a four-year-old daughter of Stormin Fever, has not raced since her victory by a nose in the Santa Margarita on March 12 at Santa Anita.
  • Who could forget the exciting finish of 2003, when Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch by a nose?

count noses

Count people, typically in order to determine the numbers in a vote.
Example sentences
  • ‘Nobody is better at counting noses for votes,’ says one City Hall observer.
  • Legislative floor whips were counting noses, but no one could predict the final outcome through most of the day yesterday.

cut off one's nose to spite one's face

Hurt oneself in the course of trying to hurt another.
Example sentences
  • Losing the latter to gain some of the former is truly cutting off your nose to spite your face.
  • People may say that is cutting off your nose to spite your face, but I know many who are thinking about not going any more.
  • It seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face, but the program is designed so the burning of a forest fire near a residence or a community would be less intense.

give someone a bloody nose

Inflict a resounding defeat on someone.
Example sentences
  • Voters usually want to give them a bloody nose, just to remind those in power that they're being watched closely.
  • ‘The voters wanted to give him a bloody nose,’ he acknowledges.
  • That means all hope is gone of giving him a bloody nose over it in 2006.

have one's nose in a book

Be reading studiously or intently.
Example sentences
  • She always has her nose in a book and so one of the guys I talked to called her bookworm and I thought it stuck.
  • ‘You always had your nose in a book,’ her mom teased.
  • You never let anyone near you, and you always had your nose in a book.

keep one's nose clean

informal Stay out of trouble.
Example sentences
  • If you are not high enough up the business ladder, you take your wages, keep your nose clean, and you get in trouble if you waste a paper clip.
  • But if you kept your nose clean and got on with your life, they left you alone.
  • Sienna is a real threat because she's younger - and has kept her nose clean.

keep one's nose out of

Refrain from interfering in (someone else’s affairs).
Example sentences
  • I still think you should keep your nose out of other people's affairs.
  • He's never asked for me to help, and I don't want to risk the chance that he would rather me keep my nose out of our affairs, so haven't ever offered.
  • Mr. O'Grady says Miss Elizabeth should keep her nose out of where she isn't wanted.

keep one's nose to the grindstone


nose to tail

(Of vehicles) moving or standing close behind one another, especially in heavy traffic.
Example sentences
  • According to today's Standard ‘about 10 million motorists are expected on the roads, leaving main routes from London nose to tail with traffic’.
  • The traffic is nose to tail from 6.30 am till midnight.
  • The only time I enjoy coming into work is when the traffic is nose to tail from the Bridge and I have brought the motorbike into work.

not see further than one's (or the end of one's) nose

Be unwilling or fail to consider different possibilities or to foresee the consequences of one’s actions.

on the nose

1To a person’s sense of smell: the wine is pungently smoky and peppery on the nose
More example sentences
  • The dominant smell on the nose is of lemon sherbet and orange peel, followed on the palate by a solid, sweet vanillin mouthful.
  • This one presents peppery spice on the nose and a solid Old World palate.
  • Refreshing acidity, with ripe raspberry and cracked pepper on the nose.
2 informal , chiefly North American Precisely: at ten on the nose the van pulled up
More example sentences
  • Then Vladimir showed at the restaurant promptly at seven on the nose.
  • They made it to school by 8:05 on the nose, thanks to Leo's inability to follow state law and stay within the speed limit.
3 informal (Of betting) on a horse to win (as opposed to being placed).
Example sentences
  • But Harlan's also just put the money on the nose of a dead-cert racing tip that, true to form, came in second.
  • Junior minister Jim McDaid is not a member of the cabinet any more, but last year he had one successful 20-1 shot, with €50 on the nose.

put someone's nose out of joint

informal Upset or annoy someone.
Example sentences
  • Since starting this blog, more than one of these individuals has told me that things are different in Bermuda and that I should be careful what I say lest I put someone's nose out of joint.
  • So to put her nose out of joint because I also was feeling childish, I did some fairly ‘hard’ ones.
  • ‘Totti will certainly put Del Piero's nose out of joint if the picture on the front page is anything to go by,’ says Magnus Blair.

speak through one's nose

Pronounce words with a nasal twang.
Example sentences
  • I've even caught myself speaking through my nose at least twice, and the times I haven't noticed worry me more.
  • If you're a young man about town, you strut stiffly, head up, as if the place smells of disinfectant, put on a lofty expression and speak through your nose.
  • Instead she wants to say, ‘I'm just doing this ‘for the children’,’ he says, tossing his head back and speaking through his nose.

turn one's nose up at something

informal Show distaste or contempt for something: he turned his nose up at the job
More example sentences
  • It's easy for academics to turn their nose up at it, but time shows that it's wrong to say that because something is popular it isn't worthy.
  • On the other hand, this was going to give me a chance to lead from the front and surprise everyone, so I couldn't turn my nose up at it.
  • While many will have no use for this feature, it's hard to turn your nose up at it.

under someone's nose

informal Directly in front of someone: he thrust the paper under the inspector’s nose
More example sentences
  • I had searched and searched for my path, and finally found that it was the one directly under my nose that I was used to.
  • He was just about to catch her when she doubled back, directly under his nose.
  • Well, I was just on my way home from school, looking at my feet while I was walking, when suddenly a piece of paper is shoved under my nose.
15.1(Of an action) committed openly and boldly, but without someone noticing or noticing in time to prevent it.
Example sentences
  • You commit a brand-new federal crime right under the government's nose.
  • You might not have noticed, but its happening right under your nose.
  • You might not have heard about these cases, but they go on right under your nose.

with one's nose in the air

Haughtily: she walked past the cars with her nose in the air
More example sentences
  • She grabbed it firmly, got to her feet and walked past him with her nose in the air.
  • I suppose some fly fisherman do walk around with their nose in the air.
  • ‘You asked for it, walking on an icy road with your nose in the air,’ he told her sternly, then cracked another smile when she tried to furtively rub her backside.



[in combination]: snub-nosed


Pronunciation: /ˈnōzləs/
Example sentences
  • A noseless father has a repertoire of wooden noses he's made himself - one with a rose velvet lining, another painted with flowers.
  • In previous oriental tales, Eblis had been portrayed as a clawed, noseless monster.
  • The noseless man's beautiful daughter challenges her boyfriend, who ends up losing a body part, possibly on purpose, in order to fit in to her family.

Words that rhyme with nose

appose, arose, Bose, brose, chose, close, compose, diagnose, self-diagnose, doze, enclose, expose, foreclose, froze, hose, impose, interpose, juxtapose, Montrose, noes, oppose, plainclothes, pose, propose, prose, rose, suppose, those, transpose, underexpose, uprose

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive