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The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Nose

Cleopatra's nose: had it been shorter, the whole aspect of the world would have been altered. --Pascal, Pensees, II

Just need a nose job! --Kramer (Seinfeld, rerun of May 2, 2000)

Pepys had a temper, too, unfortunately, and more than once was driven to twist her nose . . . --Charles Elliott (2001:105; on Samuel Pepys' quarrels with his wife, Elizabeth, over beauties he had charmed)


Body part. That projecting part of the human face which contains the nostrils and organs of smell.
Usage: The nose is one of the most defining features of human identity and facial recognition.

Anatomy. Located at the center of our face, the nose is a rounded prominence of bone, gristle, fatty tissue, and flesh. Unlike animal noses, its freestanding shape reinforces the vertical height of our face and accents the stability of its features.

Culture. In the Trobriand Islands, couples may gently bite noses while making love. Among Eskimos, Maoris, and Polynesians, touching another's face or head with the tip of the nose is used as a friendly greeting.

Emotion. When we breathe deeply, or are emotionally aroused, our nostrils visibly flare. They may uncontrollably widen in anger, as well, when we listen to disagreeable comments made by colleagues around a conference table

Evolution. Our triangular nose evolved in tandem with shrinkage of the primate's bony muzzle. Because early primates depended more on sight than smell, their snouts gradually shortened. Because we have no muzzle at all, our proboscis was left standing high and dry on the fleshy plain.
Gender. The generally larger noses of men give an appearance of "strength." Women's generally smaller noses--which may be further reduced with makeup to keep from upstaging the lips and eyes--give an appearance of "youth." (See LOVE SIGNAL.)

Media. In magazine ads, the feminine nose "disappears" into the flatness of the face to accent the lips, eyes, and baby-smooth skin (Givens 1983).

Respiration. Though our face is flatter today than that of our remote primate ancestors, we still require the air we breathe to be cleaned, warmed, and moistened before it enters our lungs. Thus, our nose projects like an air duct, prominently and for all to see.
See also FACIAL I.D.