Definition of nod in English:

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Pronunciation: /nɒd/

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 looked around for support and everyone nodded [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, wag, duck
1.1 [with object] Signify or express (greeting, assent, or understanding) by nodding: 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
1.2 (nod something through) informal Approve something by general agreement, without discussion: the DTI nodded through the bid from Airtours
More example sentences
  • But he added that A-Levels were going the way of GCSEs in the sense that universities and companies were increasingly unlikely to look at candidates with less than a C, now that 24 out of 25 entries were nodded through.
  • I am disappointed that this change was nodded through without any debate, and treated as a budget-saving measure.
  • The decision to axe the brainwave was nodded through by both Conservative and Labour councillors without debate or comment.
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] Let 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.
2.1Make a mistake due to a momentary lack of alertness or attention: scientific reason, like Homer, sometimes nods
With allusion to Latin dormitat Homerus 'even Homer nods' (Horace Ars Poet. 359)
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.
make a mistake, be mistaken, be in error, be wrong, be incorrect, get something wrong, make an error, make a slip, err, trip up, stumble;
be careless, be inattentive, be negligent
informal slip up
3 [with object and adverbial of direction] Soccer Head (the ball) without great force: Henry nodded the ball over the line
More example sentences
  • He swung in a cross which Walker failed to cut out and the Zimbabwe player nodded the ball into an empty net from two yards.
  • He nodded the ball down only for the goalkeeper to stick out a hand and paw it away.
  • County missed a glorious chance when defensive panic from a free-kick caused Gavin to nod the ball over the advancing Henderson.


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, duck;
greeting, acknowledgement
1.1 (a nod to) A gesture of acknowledgement or concession to: the device is a nod to the conventions of slapstick
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.



nodding acquaintance

A slight acquaintance with a person or 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.

be on nodding terms

Know someone slightly: the two girls are not even on nodding terms with each other
More example sentences
  • I'm on nodding terms with my two immediate neighbours.
  • It helped that I was on nodding terms with the actress he was talking to, so I clumsily barged in.
  • I can't pretend to be on great terms with my neighbours on this estate - but I try to be on nodding terms, at least with the ones I recognise.

get the nod

1Be selected or approved: I think Hooper will get the nod as he’s been playing really well recently
More 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.
be selected, be chosen, be picked, make the grade;
British  be capped
Australian informal get a guernsey
2Receive a signal or information: I got the nod that the government were looking for ex-army officers to form a new force
More 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/thing 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.
select, choose, pick, go for;
British  cap
approve, agree to, sanction, ratify, endorse, say yes to, give one's approval to, rubber-stamp
informal give something the go-ahead, give something the green light, OK, give something the OK, give something the thumbs up
2Give someone a signal: just give me the nod
More 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.

a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse

proverb Used to convey that a hint or suggestion can be or has been understood without the need of further elaboration or explanation: of course, we can’t discuss it over the telephone, but a nod’s as good as a wink, and I promise I’ll be very careful
More example sentences
  • West Ham threw up their hands in horror, claiming they'd never gone near him, but a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, and why talk to him directly when you can put it all in the papers?
  • So, if a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, I think I can almost safely assume we are good enough for this particular rental agency.

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: the bookie took his bet on the nod
3Alternating between wakefulness and sleepiness on account of heroin use.

Phrasal verbs

nod off

informal Fall asleep, especially briefly or unintentionally: he 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, get to sleep, doze off, drop off
informal go off, drift off, crash out, flake out, go out like a light, conk out
North American informal sack out, zone out


Late Middle English (as a verb): perhaps of Low German origin; compare with Middle High German notten 'move about, 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

Line breaks: nod

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