on the nose

on the nose


  1. the part of the face or facial region in humans and certain animals that contains the nostrils and the organs of smell and functions as the usual passageway for air in respiration: in humans it is a prominence in the center of the face formed of bone and cartilage, serving also to modify or modulate the voice.
  2. this part as the organ of smell.
  3. the sense of smell: fragrances appealing to the nose.
  4. anything regarded as resembling the nose of a person or animal, as a spout or nozzle.
  5. the prow of a ship.
  6. the forward end of an aircraft.
  7. the forward edge of the head of a golf club.
  8. a projecting part of anything: the nose of a pair of pliers.
  9. a faculty of perceiving or detecting: to have a nose for news.
  10. the human nose regarded as a symbol of meddling or prying: Why can’t he keep his nose out of my business?
  11. the length of a nose: The horse won the race by a nose.
  12. the bouquet of an alcoholic drink, especially the distinctive aroma of a wine.

verb (used with object), nosed, nos·ing.

  1. to perceive by or as by the nose or the sense of smell: a cheese that could be nosed at some distance.
  2. to approach the nose to, as in smelling or examining; sniff.
  3. to move or push forward with or as with the nose: The dog nosed its pup back into the yard. The boat nosed its way toward shore.
  4. to touch or rub with the nose; nuzzle.

verb (used without object), nosed, nos·ing.

  1. to smell or sniff.
  2. to seek as if by smelling or scent: The dogs nosed after their quarry.
  3. to move or push forward: to nose into the wind.
  4. to meddle or pry (often followed by about, into, etc.): They are always nosing about in other people’s business.

Verb Phrases

  1. nose out,
    1. to defeat, especially by a narrow margin: The other candidates had been nosed out in the final returns.
    2. to learn or discover, especially by snooping or prying: to nose out a secret.


  1. count noses, to count the number of people in attendance: Each time the troop left an exhibit the leader counted noses.
  2. cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face, to create a disadvantage to oneself through one’s own spiteful action.
  3. follow one’s nose,
    1. to go forward in a straight course.
    2. to guide oneself by instinct: I found the house by following my nose.
  4. hold one’s nose, to repress feelings of distaste, repulsion, or offense for something that one is obliged to do: He held his nose and voted for the bill.
  5. keep one’s nose clean, to behave oneself; avoid trouble or scandal: Did he keep his nose clean after he got out of prison?
  6. keep one’s nose to the grindstone. grindstone(def 3).
  7. lead (around) by the nose, to exercise complete control over; dominate totally: He lets his brother lead him by the nose.
  8. look down one’s nose at, to regard with disdain or condescension: He had always looked down his nose at those who were poorer than he.
  9. on the nose, Informal.
    1. precisely, correctly, or perfectly.
    2. exactly on time: We made it at ten o’clock on the nose.
    3. (of a bet) for win only.
    4. Australian Informal.decayed or putrid; stinking.
    5. Australian Informal.distasteful or unpleasant; of doubtful validity or propriety.
  10. pay through the nose, to pay an excessive price: They patronize small and exclusive shops where they cheerfully pay through the nose.
  11. put someone’s nose out of joint,
    1. to annoy or irritate greatly.
    2. to supersede a person in another’s regard, devotion, etc.
    3. to thwart someone; spoil someone’s plans.
  12. rub someone’s nose in, to persecute or tease someone persistently about; nag someone about: I know I was wrong but you don’t have to rub my nose in it.
  13. turn up one’s nose at, to regard with contempt; scorn: My friend turns up his nose at anyone who hasn’t had a college education.
  14. under someone’s nose, plainly visible to; in full view of; in bold defiance of: The theft took place right under the detective’s nose.Also under someone’s very nose.


  1. the organ of smell and entrance to the respiratory tract, consisting of a prominent structure divided into two hair-lined air passages by a median septumRelated adjectives: nasal, rhinal
  2. the sense of smell itself: in hounds and other animals, the ability to follow trails by scent (esp in the phrases a good nose, a bad nose)
  3. another word for bouquet (def. 2)
  4. instinctive skill or facility, esp in discovering things (sometimes in the phrase follow one’s nose)he had a nose for good news stories
  5. any part regarded as resembling a nose in form or function, such as a nozzle or spout
  6. the forward part of a vehicle, aircraft, etc, esp the front end of an aircraft
  7. narrow margin of victory (in the phrase (win) by a nose)
  8. cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face to carry out a vengeful action that hurts oneself more than another
  9. get up someone’s nose informal to annoy or irritate someone
  10. keep one’s nose clean to stay out of trouble; behave properly
  11. keep one’s nose to the grindstone to work hard and continuously
  12. lead someone by the nose to make someone do unquestioningly all one wishes; dominate someone
  13. look down one’s nose at informal to be contemptuous or disdainful of
  14. nose to tail (of vehicles) moving or standing very close behind one another
  15. on the nose slang
    1. (in horse-race betting) to win onlyI bet twenty pounds on the nose on that horse
    2. mainly US and Canadianprecisely; exactly
    3. Australianbad or bad-smelling
  16. pay through the nose informal to pay an exorbitant price
  17. poke one’s nose into or stick one’s nose into informal to pry into or interfere in
  18. put someone’s nose out of joint informal to thwart or offend someone, esp by supplanting him or gaining something he regards as his
  19. rub someone’s nose in it informal to remind someone unkindly of his failing or error
  20. see no further than one’s nose or see no further than the end of one’s nose informal
    1. to be short-sighted; suffer from myopia
    2. to lack insight or foresight
  21. turn up one’s nose or turn up one’s nose at something informal to behave disdainfully towards (something)
  22. under one’s nose
    1. directly in front of one
    2. without one noticing
  23. with one’s nose in the air haughtily


  1. (tr) (esp of horses, dogs, etc) to rub, touch, or sniff with the nose; nuzzle
  2. to smell or sniff (wine, etc)
  3. (intr; usually foll by after or for) to search (for) by or as if by scent
  4. to move or cause to move forwards slowly and carefullythe car nosed along the cliff top; we nosed the car into the garage
  5. (intr; foll by into, around, about, etc) to pry or snoop (into) or meddle (in)

v.“perceive the smell of,” 1570s; “pry, search,” 1640s, from nose (n.). Related: Nosed; nosing. n.Old English nosu, from Proto-Germanic *nusus (cf. Old Norse nös, Old Frisian nose, Dutch neus, Old High German nasa, German Nase), from PIE *nas- “nose” (cf. Sanskrit nasa, Old Persian naham, Old Church Slavonic nasu, Lithuanian nosis, Latin nasus “nose”). Used of any prominent or projecting part from 1530s. (nose cone in the space rocket sense is from 1949). Used to indicate “something obvious” from 1590s. Meaning “odor, scent” is from 1894. Kiv, It could bee no other then his owne manne, that had thrust his nose so farre out of ioynte. [“Barnabe Riche His Farewell to Military Profession,” 1581] Pay through the nose (1670s) seems to suggest “bleed.” Many extended meanings are from the horse-racing sense of “length of a horse’s nose,” as a measure of distance between two finishers (1908). To turn up one’s nose “show disdain” is from 1818 (earlier hold up one’s nose, 1570s); similar notion in look down one’s nose (1921). To say something is under (one’s) nose “in plain view” is from 1540s. n.

  1. The part of the human face or the forward part of the head of other vertebrates that contains the nostrils and organs of smell and forms the beginning of the respiratory tract.

Exactly, precisely; especially, at the appointed time or estimated amount. For example, The busload of students arrived at the museum at ten o’clock right on the nose, or He guessed the final score on the nose. This term, like on the button, may come from boxing, where the opponent’s nose is a highly desired target. [c. 1930] In addition to the idioms beginning with nose

  • nose about
  • nose in
  • nose in a book, have one’s
  • nose in the air, have one’s
  • nose into
  • nose out
  • nose out of joint, have one’s
  • nose to the grindstone, keep one’s
  • also see:

  • brown nose
  • can’t see beyond the end of one’s nose
  • count noses
  • cut off one’s nose
  • follow one’s nose
  • keep one’s nose clean
  • lead by the nose
  • look down on (one’s nose)
  • no skin off my nose
  • on the nose
  • pay through the nose
  • plain as day (the nose on your face)
  • poke one’s nose into
  • rub someone’s nose in it
  • thumb one’s nose
  • turn up one’s nose
  • under one’s nose
  • win by a nose
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