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Under one’s nose

  • Under one’s nose is an idiom that has been in use for centuries. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying under one’s nose, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.



     

    Something that is under one’s nose is obvious, hard to miss, or easily available and yet, the person does not notice it. Usually, one fails to notice something that is under one’s nose due to distraction or stress. The expression under one’s nose has been in use since the 1400s and alludes to a situation in which the thing one is seeking is so close, it is literally under one’s nose, certainly close enough to be seen if one were paying attention.

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    Examples

    My personal wine goal of the year has been to seek out wines right under my nose that weren’t on my radar before, and it has been a bonafide abbondanza of pleasure. (Forbes Magazine)

    Head of the Blue Downs police cluster Vincent Beaton said: “I am totally embarrassed that this all happened under my nose. (Independent)

    “This stuff was right under my nose, I just never really knew about it,” Mrva said. (Valley Breeze)


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