count noses, to count the number of people in attendance: Each time the troop left an exhibit the leader counted noses.
    cut off one's nose to spite one's face, to create a disadvantage to oneself through one's own spiteful action.
    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.
    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.
    keep one's nose clean, to behave oneself; avoid trouble or scandal: Did he keep his nose clean after he got out of prison?
    keep one's nose to the grindstone. grindstone(def 3).
    lead (around) by the nose, to exercise complete control over; dominate totally: He lets his brother lead him by the nose.
    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.
    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.
    pay through the nose, to pay an excessive price: They patronize small and exclusive shops where they cheerfully pay through the nose.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.

Origin of nose

before 900; Middle English (noun); Old English nosu; akin to Dutch neus, German Nase, Latin nāsus, Sanskrit nāsā
Related formsnose·less, adjectivenose·like, adjectiveun·nosed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for hold one's nose



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
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)
another word for bouquet (def. 2)
instinctive skill or facility, esp in discovering things (sometimes in the phrase follow one's nose)he had a nose for good news stories
any part regarded as resembling a nose in form or function, such as a nozzle or spout
the forward part of a vehicle, aircraft, etc, esp the front end of an aircraft
narrow margin of victory (in the phrase (win) by a nose)
cut off one's nose to spite one's face to carry out a vengeful action that hurts oneself more than another
get up someone's nose informal to annoy or irritate someone
keep one's nose clean to stay out of trouble; behave properly
keep one's nose to the grindstone to work hard and continuously
lead someone by the nose to make someone do unquestioningly all one wishes; dominate someone
look down one's nose at informal to be contemptuous or disdainful of
nose to tail (of vehicles) moving or standing very close behind one another
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
pay through the nose informal to pay an exorbitant price
poke one's nose into or stick one's nose into informal to pry into or interfere in
put someone's nose out of joint informal to thwart or offend someone, esp by supplanting him or gaining something he regards as his
rub someone's nose in it informal to remind someone unkindly of his failing or error
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
turn up one's nose or turn up one's nose at something informal to behave disdainfully towards (something)
under one's nose
  1. directly in front of one
  2. without one noticing
with one's nose in the air haughtily


(tr) (esp of horses, dogs, etc) to rub, touch, or sniff with the nose; nuzzle
to smell or sniff (wine, etc)
(intr; usually foll by after or for) to search (for) by or as if by scent
to move or cause to move forwards slowly and carefullythe car nosed along the cliff top; we nosed the car into the garage
(intr; foll by into, around, about, etc) to pry or snoop (into) or meddle (in)
See also nose out
Derived Formsnoseless, adjectivenoselike, adjective

Word Origin for nose

Old English nosu; related to Old Frisian nose, Norwegian nosa to smell and nus smell
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

Word Origin and History for hold one's nose



"perceive the smell of," 1570s; "pry, search," 1640s, from nose (n.). Related: Nosed; nosing.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hold one's nose in Medicine




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

Idioms and Phrases with hold one's nose


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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.