What Does Under Your Nose Mean?

Under Your Nose Meaning

Definition: Right in front of someone; in a place that is easy to find.

It is common for this expression to appear as it was right under my nose. It describes something that a person couldn’t find even though it was very close and in an obvious place. It can describe physical objects, or it can describe an idea or realization.

Origin of Under Your Nose

It is unclear exactly how this idiom originated. However, it first appeared in the 1500s or 1600s.

It likely comes from the fact that if something is literally under a person’s nose, it is very close and right in front of them.

Examples of Under Your Nose

under his nose meaningA woman uses this idiom literally while helping her friend find his glasses.

Rodrigo: Could you help me find my glasses?

Alisha: Sure. I already found them.

Rodrigo: Are you serious? I’ve been looking for 10 minutes already!

Alisha: Of course, I’m serious. They’re on a chain around your neck. You’re wearing them. They just aren’t on your face at the moment.

Rodrigo: I can’t believe this. I feel like an idiot. They were literally under my nose this whole time.

define under your noseIn the below example, two friends are discussing a new boyfriend.

Luis: So, who is the new guy you’re dating?

Stephanie: Actually, you already know him. He’s not new. He’s my best friend!

Luis: You’re dating Jason?

Stephanie: Yes!

Luis: I definitely didn’t expect that.

Stephanie: Neither did I. I always assumed he just thought of me as a friend, but it turns out we’ve been in love this whole time. It was right under my nose the whole time, and I only just realized it!

More Examples

In this quote, a woman explains that she was looking for a great school. She didn’t realize there was one she loved very close to her.

  • “When she took me through the classrooms, I was almost brought to tears,” Armstrong said. “I couldn’t believe (St. James) was right under my nose the whole time.”  –Chicago Tribune

The below article quote explains that a murderer passed undetected in front of many people.

  • “After they were apprehended, I learned that the shooters had been using the YMCA in my neighborhood, Silver Spring, literally blocks from my house, throughout their murderous spree. They were right under my nose for almost the whole time.”  –Washington Post


The phrase under one’s nose is another way to say in an obvious place or directly in front of someone.