Brewer's: Nose

Bleeding of the nose Sign of love.

“`Did my nose ever bleed when I was in your company?' and, poor wretch, just as she spake this to show her true heart, her nose fell a-bleeding.” —Boulster: Lectures, p. 130.

Bleeding of the nose.
Grose says if it bleeds one drop only it forebodes sickness, if three drops the omen is still worse, but Melton, in his Astrologaster, says, “If a man's nose bleeds one drop at the left nostril it is a sign of good luck, and vice versâ.”

Led by the nose.
Isaiah xxxvii. 29 says, “Because thy rage against Me is come up into Mine cars, therefore will I put My hook in thy nose ... and will turn thee back. ...” Horses, asses, etc., led by bit and bridle, are led by the nose. Hence Iago says of Othello, he was “led by the nose as asses are” (i.3). But buffaloes, camels, and bears are actually led by a ring inserted into their nostrils.

Golden nose.
Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer. Having lost his nose in a duel with Passberg, he adopted a golden one, which he attached to his face by a cement which he carried about with him.

“That eminent man who had a golden nose, Tycho Brahe.” —Marryat: Jutland and the Danish Isles, p. 305

General Zelislaus, having lost his right hand in battle, had a golden one given him by Boleslaus III.

To count noses.
To count the numbers of a division. It is a horse-dealer's term, who counts horses by the nose, for the sake of convenience. Thus the Times, comparing the House of Commons to Tattersall's, says, “Such is the counting of noses upon a question which lies at the basis of our constitution.”

To out off your nose to spite your face,
or ... to be revenged on your face. To act out of pique in such a way as to injure yourself: as to run a way from home, to marry out of pique, to throw up a good situation in a fit of ill temper, etc., or any similar folly.

To keep one's nose to the grin'-stone.
To keep one hard at work. Tools, such as scythes, chisels, etc., are constantly sharpened on a stone or with a grin'-stone. The nose of a stair is the edge, and “nose” in numerous phrases stands for the person's self. In French nez is so used in some phrases.

“From this ... he kept Bill's nose to the grinding-stone.” —W. B. Yeats: Fairy Tales of the Irish Peasantry, p. 237.

Paying through the nose.
Grimm says that Odin had a poll-tax which was called in Sweden a nose-tax; it was a penny per nose or poll. (Deutsche Rechts Alterthumer.) (See Nose Tax, Rhino.) To snap one's nose aff. To speak snappishly. “Ready to snap one's nose off.” To “pull (or wring) the nose,” tirer or arracher le nez is to affront by an act of indignity; to snap one's nose is to affront by speech. Fighting dogs snap at each other's noses.

To wipe [one's] nose.
To affront a person; to give one a blow on the nose. Similarly, to wipe a person's eye; to fetch one a wipe over the knuckles, etc., connected with the Anglo-Saxon verb hweop-an, to whip, to strike (our whip).

“She was so nose-wipt, slighted, and disdained,” —Nares' Glossary, p. 619.

“To wipe off a score,” “to wipe a person down,” meaning to cajole or pacify, from the Anglo-Saxon wipian, to wipe, cleanse. Hence to fleece one out of his money. Quite another verb to that given above.

To take pepper in the nose.
To take offence.

“A man is testy, and anger wrinkles his nose such a man takes pepper in the nose.” —Optick Glasse of Humors (1639).

To turn up one's nose.
To express contempt. When a person sneers he turns up the nose by curling the upper lip.

Under your [very] nose.
This is French also: “Au nez ct à la barbe de quelqu'un” (“Just before your face”). Nose = face in numerous locutions, both in French and English; as, “Montrer son nez;” “Régarder quelqu'un sous le nez;” “Mettre le nez a la fenêtre,” etc.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

Related Content