Dominate or control someone, as in “The Moor ... will tenderly be led by the nose as asses are” (Shakespeare, Othello, 1:3). This expression alludes to an animal being led by a ring passed through its nostrils. [Late 1500s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.