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Early 15th century Middle English noselyng, as nose + -lyng ((frequentative)) (modern English nose +‎ -le ((frequentative))). Modern affectionate, intimate sense 1590s, possibly influenced by nestle or nursle (frequentative of nurse).[1]

Alternative forms[edit]


  • IPA(key): /ˈnʌzəl/
  • Rhymes: -ʌzəl
    • (file)


nuzzle (third-person singular simple present nuzzles, present participle nuzzling, simple past and past participle nuzzled)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) (of animals, lovers, etc) To touch someone or something with the nose.
    The horse nuzzled its foal's head gently to wake him up.
    The bird nuzzled up to the wires of the cage.
    She nuzzled her boyfriend in the cinema.
  2. (obsolete) To nurse; to foster; to bring up.
  3. (obsolete) To nestle; to house, as in a nest.
  4. (obsolete) To go along with the nose to the ground, like a pig.
    • 1712, John Arbuthnot, The History of John Bull:
      He charg'd through an army of lawyers, sometimes with sword in hand, at other times nuzzling like an eel in the mud.
    • 1733-1738, Alexander Pope, Imitations of Horace:
      The blessed benefit, not there confin'd, / Drops to the third, who nuzzles close behind.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “nuzzle”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  • Folk-etymology: a dictionary of verbal corruptions or words perverted in form or meaning, by false derivation or mistaken analogy, Abram Smythe Palmer, G. Bell and Sons, 1882, p. 261