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[nod] /nɒd/
verb (used without object), nodded, nodding.
to make a slight, quick downward bending forward of the head, as in assent, greeting, or command.
to let the head fall slightly forward with a sudden, involuntary movement when sleepy.
to doze, especially in a sitting position:
The speaker was so boring that half the audience was nodding.
to become careless, inattentive, or listless; make an error or mistake through lack of attention.
(of trees, flowers, plumes, etc.) to droop, bend, or incline with a swaying motion.
verb (used with object), nodded, nodding.
to bend (the head) in a short, quick downward movement, as of assent or greeting.
to express or signify by such a movement of the head:
to nod approval; to nod agreement.
to summon, bring, or send by a nod of the head.
to cause (something) to lean or sway; incline.
a short, quick downward bending forward of the head, as in assent, greeting, or command or because of drowsiness.
a brief period of sleep; nap.
a bending or swaying movement.
Verb phrases
nod off, to fall asleep or doze, especially in a sitting position:
He was reprimanded for nodding off in class.
nod out, Slang. to fall asleep, especially owing to the effects of a drug.
give the nod to, Informal. to express approval of; agree to:
The board gave the nod to the new proposal.
on the nod,
  1. British Slang. on credit.
  2. Slang. drowsy following a dose of a narcotic drug.
Origin of nod
1350-1400; Middle English nodde, of uncertain origin
Related forms
nodder, noun
noddingly, adverb
unnodding, adjective
3. drowse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nodding
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I saw it," said Nikolay, giving her a glass of wine, and nodding his head.

    Mother Maksim Gorky
  • Oh, Matilda, come and look how they are nodding their bonnets at each other!

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Rosie paused and Danny, nodding his head, said: "For instance, a girl like Ellen."

    The Rosie World Parker Fillmore
  • He caught his balance and rested against the tree, nodding in satisfaction.

    Millennium Everett B. Cole
  • On a fallen trunk by the water, sat a sedate group of water-bugs chewing young tendrils and nodding approval with their beards.

    Little Tom V. Tille
British Dictionary definitions for nodding


verb nods, nodding, nodded
to lower and raise (the head) briefly, as to indicate agreement, invitation, etc
(transitive) to express or indicate by nodding: she nodded approval
(transitive) to bring or direct by nodding: she nodded me towards the manager's office
(intransitive) (of flowers, trees, etc) to sway or bend forwards and back
(intransitive) to let the head fall forward through drowsiness; be almost asleep: the old lady sat nodding by the fire
(intransitive) to be momentarily inattentive or careless: even Homer sometimes nods
nodding acquaintance, a slight, casual, or superficial knowledge (of a subject or a person)
a quick down-and-up movement of the head, as in assent, command, etc: she greeted him with a nod
a short sleep; nap See also land of Nod
a swaying motion, as of flowers, etc, in the wind
(informal) on the nod
  1. agreed, as in a committee meeting, without any formal procedure
  2. (formerly) on credit
(boxing, informal) the nod, the award of a contest to a competitor on the basis of points scored
See also nod off, nod out
Derived Forms
nodding, adjective, noun
Word Origin
C14 nodde, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nodding



"to quickly bow the head," late 14c., of unknown origin, probably an Old English word, but not recorded; perhaps related to Old High German hnoton "to shake," from Proto-Germanic *khnudojanan. Meaning "to drift in and out of consciousness while on drugs" is attested from 1968. Related: Nodded; nodding. A nodding acquaintance (1711) is one you know just well enough to greet with a nod.


mid-15c., from nod (v.). Land of Nod "sleep" is a pun on the biblical place name (Gen. iv:16).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nodding



To be intoxicated with narcotics to a very drowsy or stuporous state: with slews of rich kids nodding in the Scarsdale woods

[1960s+ Narcotics; the underlying sense, ''let the head fall forward when drowsy,'' is found by 1562]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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nodding in the Bible

exile; wandering; unrest, a name given to the country to which Cain fled (Gen.4:16). It lay on the east of Eden.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with nodding


In addition to the idiom beginning with nod also see: get the nod
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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