Nose Around

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Also: Nose about

Meaning of Idiom 'Nose Around'

To nose around is to snoop around. It means to look for something that is hidden or being kept private or just to look around someone else's property.

The idiom is sometimes used, as well, to refer to the actions of a busy-body, someone hanging around and eavesdropping on private conversations for the purpose of gathering gossip.

Usage

"Every Christmas, the kids nose around looking for their presents, but they never find them."

"Stop nosing around the kitchen. You're on a diet and there is no candy!"

"Karen is always nosing around the office so watch what you say when she's around. She loves to spread gossip!"

Origin

Used since the later 1800's.

A clue to the origin of this idiom may be in an earlier idiom, "to snuff around."

The word snuff, as a verb, refers to drawing air forcibly through the nose. For animals which rely on their sense of smell, to snuff around is to sniff around to find food or simply to examine someone or something.

A dog might "snuff around" a person's pocket because it smells something inside. A person searching around for something hidden, then, is snuffing around. A natural extension is to "nose around."

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