First attested 1532, from John Frith's A Mirror to know Thyself:
- "This Text holdeth their noses so hard to the grindstone, that it clean disfigureth their faces."
(with) nose to the grindstone
- (idiomatic) Hard at work.
- Nose to the grindstone, he was up all night.
nose to the grindstone (plural noses to the grindstone)
- (idiomatic, after keep, put, have, hold (one's)) used for form idioms meaning "to work hard, or focus heavily on work."
- If he'd keep his nose to the grindstone a bit more, he could be a pretty good student.