Definition of nose in English:

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Pronunciation: /nəʊz/


1The part projecting above the mouth on the face of a person or animal, containing the nostrils and used for breathing and smelling: he slowly breathed out the air through his nose he pushed his glasses higher on to the bridge of his nose the dog pressed his nose into the palm of my hand
More 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.
snout, muzzle, proboscis, trunk
informal beak, conk, snoot, schnozzle, hooter, sniffer, snitch
Scottish & Northern English informal neb
informal, dated bracket
North American informal, dated bugle
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.
sense of smell, olfactory sense
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, gift for discovering/detecting, sixth sense, intuition, insight, perception
1.3The aroma of a particular substance, especially wine: the wine has a raspberry nose and a clean taste white peaches are particularly appreciated for their perfumed aromatic nose
More 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.
smell, bouquet, aroma, fragrance, perfume, scent, odour
2The front end of an aircraft, car, or other vehicle: the plane’s nose dipped as it started descending towards the runway
More 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.
tip, nose cone;
bow, prow, front end;
British  bonnet;
North American  hood
informal droop-snoot
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] An act of looking around or prying: she wanted a good nose round 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: he knew that CID men are allowed to drink on duty as much of their time is spent with noses


1 [no object, with adverbial of place] (Of an animal) thrust its nose against or into something: 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, prod
1.1 [with object] Smell or sniff (something): because of its strength, whisky is nosed rather than tasted Mario’s gun dog nosed the carcass
More 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] Look around 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, enquire impertinently, be inquisitive, enquire;
be curious, poke about/around, mind someone else's business, be a busybody, stick/poke one's nose in;
interfere (in), meddle (in), intrude (on)
informal be nosy (about), nosy, snoop
Australian/New Zealand informal stickybeak
investigate, explore, ferret (about/around) in, rummage in, search, delve into, peer into, prowl around, have a good look at
informal snoop about/around/round
2.1 [with object] Detect by diligent searching: he nosed out the signs of trespass
More 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, search out, discover, disclose, bring to light, track down, dig up, hunt out, ferret out, root out, uncover, unearth, disinter, smell out, sniff out, follow the scent of, scent out, run to earth/ground
3 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (Of a vehicle) move 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.
move slowly, ease, inch, edge, move, manoeuvre, steer, slip, squeeze, slide;
guide, push, tuck
3.1(Of a competitor) manage to achieve a leading position 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.



by a nose

(Of a victory) by a very narrow margin: first over the line was Shemaka, but only by a nose
More 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?
just, only just, barely, narrowly, by a narrow margin, by the narrowest of margins, by a very small margin, by a hair's breadth, by the skin of one's teeth
informal by a whisker

count noses

Count people in order to determine the numbers in a vote: we count noses at Church conventions
More 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

Disadvantage oneself through a wilful attempt to gain an advantage or assert oneself: by cutting Third World aid to reduce public spending, the government would be cutting off its nose to spite its face
More 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.

get one's nose in front

Manage to achieve a winning or leading position: she got her nose in front at the eighth hole
More example sentences
  • Denmark in front did just enough to hold onto the lead and it was only in the final 10 metres that France managed to get their nose in front and seize second spot from Germany by a whisker.
  • As boats moved through the half way point France had managed to get their nose in front of Latvia with Russia, Belarus and Greece matching each other stroke for stroke.
  • But it was Germany that led from the start and Great Britain never managed to get their nose in front.

get up someone's nose

British informal Irritate or annoy someone: I bet it really gets up your nose that I’ve been so successful
More example sentences
  • Someone had got up his nose by suggesting all wars are started by capitalism.
  • This affront by the English of thinking they are the FA has been getting up my nose for ages.
  • It gets up your nose when you see other towns like Preston and Blackburn getting more money than us.
annoy, aggravate, irritate, exasperate, anger, irk, vex, put out, nettle, provoke, incense, rile, infuriate, antagonize, make someone's blood boil, ruffle someone's feathers, ruffle, try someone's patience, make someone's hackles rise;
offend, pique;
informal peeve, needle, make someone see red, get someone's back up, get someone's goat, get under someone's skin, bug, get someone, miff, hack off
British informal wind up, get at, nark, get across, get on someone's wick
North American informal tick off
vulgar slang piss off

give someone a bloody nose

Inflict a resounding defeat on someone: voters gave the government a bloody nose in the county elections
More 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: Kate always had her nose in a book and liked people in history better than people now
More 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: he tried to keep his nose clean with socially useful work
More 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

informal Refrain from interfering in (someone else’s affairs): ‘Why don’t you keep your nose out of my business?’ he demanded
More 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

British (Of vehicles) moving or standing close behind one another, especially in heavy traffic: the traffic grinds nose to tail along the road towards Windermere
More 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

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.
exactly, precisely, sharp, on the dot;
promptly, prompt, dead (on), on the stroke of …, on the dot of …
informal bang (on), spot on …
North American informal on the button
3Australian /NZ informal Distasteful or offensive.
Example sentences
  • The quarantine watchdog has been on the nose with many in the agriculture industry over a string of decisions, which has seen some loosening up of restrictions on overseas imports.
  • Back in 2000 when this was conceived, director retirement payments were already on the nose and companies like Lend Lease had moved to phase them out.
  • This is administratively easier, but its a bit on the nose to ask someone who might have joined in April to sign up again - unless I have misunderstood this.
4 informal (Of a bet) on a horse to win (as opposed to being placed): Caesar’s Revenge in the three-thirty, Pat. On the nose
More 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 Offend someone or hurt their pride: she likes being the queen bee, and you’ve put her nose out of joint
More 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.

turn one's nose up at

informal Show distaste or contempt for: 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

Directly in front of someone: he thrust the paper under the Inspector’s nose figurative the series was whisked away from under the noses of BBC radio to become one of Channel 4's biggest successes
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.
16.1(Of an action) committed openly and boldly but without anyone noticing: he made a pass at John’s wife, right under his nose and in his own house
More 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.



Pronunciation: /ˈnəʊzləs/
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.


Old English nosu, of West Germanic origin; 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.

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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: nose

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