[ noh-zee ]
/ ˈnoʊ zi /
Save This Word!

adjective, nos·i·er, nos·i·est.
a variant of nosy.
Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
Question 1 of 7
In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does nosey mean?

Nosey is used to describe someone who asks too many questions about or otherwise prys into other people’s business because they are overly curious about it. It’s especially used to describe someone who does this all the time.

Nosey is more commonly spelled nosy.

The related phrasal verbs nose in and stick one’s nose in mean to get into other people’s business—to pry or snoop.

People who are considered nosey are known for prying, snooping, asking overly personal questions, eavesdropping (listening to other people’s conversations), and generally nosing into other people’s business.

Nosey can also be used to describe such a person’s behavior and the kinds of questions they ask, as in I ignored all of his nosey questions about my medical history. 

Although the term implies a lack of respect for other people’s privacy, calling someone nosey is usually only mildly negative and is often somewhat playful. It’s not usually used in situations that involve serious or harmful violations of privacy.

The word is sometimes used to address or refer to someone as a way of saying that they are nosey, as in Hey, nosey, quit looking in my notebook. 

Example: My neighbor is as nosey as they get—she always asks where I’m going when I leave and where I’ve been when I get back!

Where does nosey come from?

The first records of nosey come from the 1800s. The word nose has been used as a verb meaning “to pry” since at least the 1600s.

This figurative sense of nose is based on the idea of searching for something by using one’s sense of smell. The phrases nose about, nose around, and sniff around mean to look around for something, especially something private or hidden. In many cases, they imply that someone is not looking for something specific—they’re just snooping around to see what they can find. This is exactly what a nosey person does.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to nosey?

  • nosy (more common spelling)
  • nosier (comparative adjective)
  • nosiest (superlative adjective)
  • nosily (adverb)
  • nosiness (noun)

What are some synonyms for nosey?

What are some words that share a root or word element with nosey


What are some words that often get used in discussing nosey?


How is nosey used in real life?

Nosey is typically used in a mildly negative way. People sometimes even call themselves nosey to acknowledge that they’re overly curious about other people’s business. It’s more commonly spelled nosy.



Try using nosey!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to describe someone who’s considered nosey?

A. prying
B. meddlesome
C. indifferent
D. curious

How to use nosey in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nosey

/ (ˈnəʊzɪ) /

a variant spelling of nosy
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