1. 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.
2. The sense of smell: a dog with a good nose.
3. The ability to detect, sense, or discover as if by smell: has a nose for gossip.
4. The characteristic smell of a wine or liqueur; bouquet.
5. Informal The nose considered as a symbol of prying: Keep your nose out of my business.
6. Something, such as the forward end of an aircraft, rocket, or submarine, that resembles a nose in shape or position.
7. A very short distance or narrow margin: won the race by a nose.
v. nosed, nos·ing, nos·es
1. To find out by or as if by smell: nosed out the thieves' hiding place.
2. To touch with the nose; nuzzle.
3. To move, push, or make with or as if with the nose.
4. To advance the forward part of cautiously: nosed the car into the flow of traffic.
1. To smell or sniff.
2. Informal To search or inquire meddlesomely; snoop or pry: nosing around looking for opportunities.
3. To advance with caution: The ship nosed into its berth.
To defeat by a narrow margin.
down (one's) nose Informal
With disapproval, contempt, or arrogance: Year-round residents here look down their noses at the summer people.
on the nose
Exactly; precisely: predicted the final score on the nose.
under (someone's) nose
In plain view: The keys are right under your nose.
[Middle English, from Old English nosu; see nas- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.