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[nos-truh l] /ˈnɒs trəl/
either of the two external openings of the nose.
Origin of nostril
before 1000; Middle English nostrill, Old English nosterl, variant of nosthyrl, equivalent to nos(u) nose + thyrel hole; see thirl Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nostrils
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • That and a slight paleness of the nostrils were the only evidences of his condition.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The scent of a big item was in his nostrils, and it stimulated him like champagne.

  • The dripping of water reached the ear; the smell of dampness the nostrils.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • The stinging air bit my nostrils and drove my hands into my pockets.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • How would they ever get the smell of the smoke of that sacrifice out of their nostrils?

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
British Dictionary definitions for nostrils


either of the two external openings of the nose related adjectives narial narine
Word Origin
Old English nosthyrl, from nosunose + thyrel hole
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nostrils



Old English nosþyrl, nosðirl, literally "the hole of the nose," from nosu "nose" (see nose (n.)) + þyrel "hole" (see thrill (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nostrils in Medicine

nostril nos·tril (nŏs'trəl)
A naris.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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