on the nose

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Adjective[edit]

on the nose (comparative more on the nose, superlative most on the nose)

  1. Used other than as an idiom: see on,‎ nose.
  2. (idiomatic) Exact; precise; appropriate.
    His estimate that they would consume 23 boxes was on the nose.
    • 1979, Toby Thompson, The ′60s Report, page 239,
      “I think the part of me that is sensible, the part that′s most on the nose about making decisions about how and what to write, is the part which wants to continue working toward the Turgenev model in fiction. Which is simply based on the idea that novels have to be extremely efficient to survive. []
    • 1995 August 22, Patrick Stewart (interviewee), Donna Minkowitz, A New Enterprise, The Advocate, page 76,
      In the last three or four years of the series, with the active and very enthusiastic support of the producers and writers, we did go much more on the nose with political issues.
    • 1997 September, Sharon Lawrence (interviewee), Jill Daniel, The Metamorph, Orange Coast Magazine, page 37,
      [Lawrence:] [At the audition,] it was me and five or six women with the large breasts, the short skirts, the hair and makeup. They were just much more on the nose, in terms of what someone who was sexually voracious would look like. I was in a sweater and slacks, hiding the sexuality.
    • 2004, James Scott Bell, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, page 146,
      It′s best to underplay such moments. In Dickens′s time a bit more on-the-nose writing was acceptable. Don′t overdo it, or you may lapse into melodrama.
    • 2008, Vincent LoBrutto, Martin Scorsese: A Biography, page 272,
      After Hours, originally named the more on the nose, A Night in Soho, was financed by Fox Classics for $3.5 million and scheduled for a forty-night shoot, and a postproduction period of around four months.
    • 2009, Rhona Cameron, The Naked Drinking Club, page 155,
      She cut me off. ‘So you′re just wandering around, are you? Showing them to everyone just for the sake of it?’ She laughed a little.
      No one had spoken to me like this before; she was bang on the nose.
    • 2011, John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1990s, page 439,
      In oarticular Miguel/Guy forces Christina/Mia to swallow bad-tasting food before a dining hall full of onlookers. The double meaning is much more on-the-nose in the remake since Guy actually says “swallow it for once in your life,” to his put-upon spouse.
  3. (idiomatic) Unimaginative; over-literal; lacking nuance.
    Wearing that floral dress to a garden party was a little on the nose, wouldn't you say?
    • August 19 2013, 1:22 PM ET, SPIN, The Weeknd and Drake 'Live For' Whining About Success, [1],
      “ And here the two are together again on new the Weeknd track "Live For," built out of a delicate acoustic loop, clappy percussion, and regal electronic ripples. The song is sumptuously introspective, but on first impression it's a bit too on the nose . Here's Tesfaye complaining in falsetto about a threesome; there's Drake trolling us by comparing himself to Prince, then proclaiming that, no, really he's the king. []
    • August 12, 2013, Stephen Bowie, The case against Breaking Bad, [2],
      Hank is a swaggering chucklehead, so he gets panic attacks. Marie is a snippy busybody, so she’s concealing a humiliating addiction. Although the show gradually grows more subtle, much of the early writing that establishes the characters is so on the nose it hurts. Any time we see Walt in class, it’s certain that what he writes on the chalkboard will echo events in his secret life. (“The faster they undergo change, the more violent the explosion.”) Jesse finds an old paper from school on which his teacher wrote, “Apply yourself!”.
  4. (slang, Australia) Smelly, malodorous; often used figuratively.
    That bucket of raw prawns you left in the sun is a bit on the nose.
    • 1977, Mungo MacCallum, Mungo's Canberra, page 198,
      Now the process has been reversed; it is doubtful if there has ever been a time when politicians and politics have been more on the nose than the period of the first Fraser government, and this is not only unfunny, but unhealthy.
    • 2004, Wendy Jane Evans, An Independent Cuss, The Diggings Are Silent, 2007, page 94,
      Dog was so stupid he didn′t realise the man was very on the nose. Larry smelt good to him, most times, ripe and earthy.
    • 2008 November, Janet Albrechtsen, Romanticising Australian Conservatism, reprinted in 2009, Eric Beecher (editor), The Best Australian Political Writing 2009, page 236,
      Conservatism was on the nose with voters and if Liberals were to regain government, the party must swing smoothly to the left on a range of social issues.

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