or nos·ey

[ noh-zee ]
/ ˈnoʊ zi /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: nosy / nosiness on Thesaurus.com

adjective, nos·i·er, nos·i·est.

unduly curious about the affairs of others; prying; meddlesome.



Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Meet Grammar Coach

Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing

Meet Grammar Coach

Improve Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of nosy

First recorded in 1880–85; nose + -y1


nos·i·ly, adverbnos·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does nosy mean?

Nosy is used to describe someone who asks too many questions about or otherwise pries 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.

A much less common spelling of nosy is nosey.

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

Nosy 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 nosy questions about my medical history. 

Although the term implies a lack of respect for other people’s privacy, calling someone nosy 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 nosy, as in Hey, nosy, quit looking in my notebook. 

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

Where does nosy come from?

The first records of nosy 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 nosy person does.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to nosy?

  • nosey (less common spelling)
  • nosier (comparative adjective)
  • nosiest (superlative adjective)
  • nosily (adverb)
  • nosiness (noun)

What are some synonyms for nosy?

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


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


How is nosy used in real life?

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


Try using nosy!

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

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

Example sentences from the Web for nosy

British Dictionary definitions for nosy



/ (ˈnəʊzɪ) /

adjective nosier or nosiest

informal prying or inquisitive

Derived forms of nosy

nosily, adverbnosiness, noun
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