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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).
- (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.
- (obsolete) To nurse; to foster; to bring up.
- 1641 May, John Milton, Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England: And the Cavvses that hitherto have Hindred it; republished as Will Taliaferro Hale, editor, Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England (Yale Studies in English; LIV), New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1916, OCLC 260112239:
- The people had been nuzzled in idolatry.
- (obsolete) To nestle; to house, as in a nest.
- (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.
touch with the nose
- 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