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Words and their stories: expressions involving the nose and the ears

[ 2011-06-28 15:05]     字号 [] [] []  
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Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

A person's nose is important for breathing and smelling. The nose is also used in many popular expressions.

Some people are able to lead other people by the nose. For example, if a wife leads her husband by the nose, she makes him do whatever she wants him to do.

Some people are said to be hard-nosed. They will not change their opinions or positions on anything. If someone is hard-nosed, chances are he will never pay through the nose, or pay too much money, for an object or service.

It is always helpful when people keep their nose out of other people's business. They do not interfere. The opposite of this is someone who noses around all the time. This kind of person is interested in other people's private matters. He is considered nosey.

Someone who keeps his nose to the grindstone works very hard. This can help a worker keep his nose clean or stay out of trouble.

One unusual expression is that is no skin off my nose. This means that a situation does not affect or concern me. We also say that sometimes a person cuts off his nose to spite his face. That is, he makes a situation worse for himself by doing something foolish because he is angry.

More problems can develop if a person looks down his nose at someone or something. The person acts like something is unimportant or worthless. This person might also turn up his nose at something that he considers not good enough. This person thinks he is better than everyone else. He has his nose in the air.

In school, some students thumb their nose at their teacher. They refuse to obey orders or do any work. Maybe these students do not know the correct answers. My mother always told me, if you study hard, the answers should be right under your nose or easily seen.

I think we have explained the nose expressions. What about ears? Well, I hope you are all ears or very interested in hearing more expressions. We might even put a bug in your ear or give you an idea about something. We also advise you to keep your ear to the ground. This means to be interested in what is happening around you and what people are thinking.

If you are a good person, you will lend an ear to your friends. You will listen to them when they have a problem they need to talk about. Our last expression is to play it by ear. This has two meanings. One is to play a song on a musical instrument by remembering the tune and not by reading the music. Play it by ear also means to decide what to do at the last minute instead of making detailed plans.


This VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES, was written by Jill Moss. I'm Faith Lapidus.

lead other people by the nose: 牵着某人的鼻子走

hard-nosed: not affected by feelings when trying to get what you want 顽强的;不屈不挠的;不讲情面的

pay through the nose: 付过高的价格

keep their nose out of other people's business: 少管闲事

nosey: 好管闲事的;爱打听的

nose to the grindstone: 不敢懈怠

keep his nose clean: 不卷入是非

no skin off my nose: 不关我的事

cut off his nose: 因为赌气而做出不顾后果的事情

look down his nose: 轻视

turn up his nose: 对……嗤之以鼻

nose in the air: 傲慢;看不起人;鼻孔朝天,自高自大

thumb their nose: 嗤之以鼻;蔑视

right under your nose: 显而易见

all ears: 全神贯注;聚精会神

put a bug in your ear: 事先给某人暗示;警告某人

keep your ear to the ground: 注意动向;掌握最新发展情况

lend an ear: 聆听;倾听

play it by ear: to decide how to deal with a situation as it develops rather than by having a plan to follow 见机行事;随机应变;根据情况需要行动

Related stories:

爱管闲事的八婆 nosey parker



Let's play it by ear 看情况吧

(来源:VOA 编辑:崔旭燕)