The word нос is just one of the words denoting a part of your face – a nose. However, it is used in a surprisingly big number of idiomatic expressions. Let’s find out some.
This idiom literally translates as “on the nose”, but it actually means “approaching, coming soon, or just around the corner”. Here are a few examples.
Осень на носу́. = Fall is coming.
Экза́мены на носу́. = Exams are just around the corner.
Но́вый год на носу́. = New Year’s Day is coming.
Just by looking at the phrase, you might determine that the expression takes the prepositional case because it denotes location and used with the preposition на. This is all true, but most of the masculine singular words take the ending -е, but not -у in the prepositional case. Why is the prepositional form of нос not но́се, but носу́ then? The matter is that the word belongs to the group of words that take the ending -у in the prepositional case with the prepositions на and в, and the ending is always stressed. You might know some of the words in this group such as на полу́ (on the floor), в лесу́ (in the forest), в шкафу́ (in the cupboard), and в году́ (in the year).
In one of the popular cartoons «Ишь ты, Ма́сленица!» (Wow, Butter Week!), the literal and idiomatic expressions are used to create a humorous situation.
— На носу́ что? — Борода́вка. — Но-но! На носу́ Ма́сленица.
борода́вка = a wart
Ма́сленица = Pancake /Butter Week (holiday)
Но-но! = Hey!
нос к но́су
If you meet a person нос к носу (nose to nose), it means you run into him face to face. This expression is used with such verbs as столкну́ться нос к но́су or встре́титься нос к но́су. For example, Вчера́ в магази́не я столкну́лся нос к но́су с на́шим преподава́телем. (I ran into our instructor at the store yesterday.)
не по но́су
If something is тебе не по нусу (not for your nose), it means that you cannot afford it because it is beyond your means, or you are not able to do it. For example, Не по но́су вам этот дом, ребя́та! (You cannot afford this house, guys!) The phrase is subjectless, and it is used with the dative case.
заруби́ть себе на носу
It literally means "to make a nick on one's nose". It could be an equivalent of the English idiom "Put that in your pipe and smoke it." meaning "memorize it forever, or remember it very well. For example, Заруби́ себе́ на носу́, что э́того де́лать нельзя́! (Remember that you must not do it.)
ве́шать / повесить нос
The meaning of this idiom is hard to get without looking it up in the dictionary. Why would anyone want to hand up his nose, right? It actually means to feel sad, upset, discouraged, hopeless, or low. For example, Ну что ты нос повесил, не всё так плохо. (Why are you so upset? Everything is not so bad after all.) If you would like to encourage someone, you can say, Не ве́шай нос! (Cheer up!)
сова́ть нос (в чужие дела / не в свои дела)
This expression means to poke one’s nose into someone’ s business. You might use it when you want to say to somebody very straight forward, "Mind your own business!", which in Russian will be Не суй свой нос не в свои дела! Please note that it sounds really rude.
но́су не пока́зывать
It literally means not to show one’s nose. If someone носу не позазывает, it means he doesn't come visit you anymore, or he doesn't appear in public. For example, Он так занят, что и носу теперь к нам не показывает. (He is so busy that he doesn't appear in our house anymore.)
оста́ться с но́сом
The literal translation of this expression is to be left with a nose). The actual meaning is to fail, to be fooled, to be left with nothing.
оди́н нос оста́лся
If someone lost a lot of weight and really got skinny, you can say У него́ оди́н нос оста́лся. The literal translation is He only has a nose left. This expression is used with У+ genitive the same way you use it in the sentences like У меня большая семья.
не видеть да́льше свое́го (со́бственного) но́са
It is used to say that someone is not able to see beyond his nose. If you say so, it means that the person is myopic or narrow-minded.
If someone didn't get enough sleep the night before, he could be клевать носом at work or school the next day. The expression literally means to peck with one’s nose, meaning to dose in a sitting position. Клевать носом за рулём очень опасно. (It's dangerous to dose while driving.)
нос не доро́с
If you need to explain to a small kid why he cannot watch a movie for grownups, your reason could be У тебя нос ещё не дорос. It literally means that your nose is not big enough, and in fact, it means that someone is too small for doing something.
хоть кровь из но́су
The literal translation of this phrase is even though one has blood from a nose. It is used to say that despite any difficulties, someone needs to do it. For example, Хоть кровь из носу, а сделать это нужно! (Despite any difficulties, you have to do it.)
под (самым) но́сом
The expression is used to show that something or somebody is right under your nose, meaning it is very close or next to you. For example, У нас такой хороший район, все магазины под носом. (We live in such a great area: all the store are so close.)
води́ть (кого?) за нос
This expression literally means to lead somebody with his nose, which in good English means to deceive, fool or confuse somebody; to put one in an awkward situation.
There are a few more interesting expressions with the word нос, but we’ll discuss them some other time.