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[nos-truh l] /ˈnɒs trəl/
either of the two external openings of the nose.
Origin of nostril
before 1000; Middle English nostrill, Old English nosterl, variant of nosthyrl, equivalent to nos(u) nose + thyrel hole; see thirl Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nostrils
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His upper lip, arched like an eyebrow, curved upwards to his nostrils and his lower hung down like a camel's.

    The Brown Fairy Book Andrew Lang
  • The dripping of water reached the ear; the smell of dampness the nostrils.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • In some cases the discharge from the nostrils is tinged with blood, while in other cases it has the appearance of muco-pus.

    Special Report on Diseases of the Horse United States Department of Agriculture
  • He smiled indulgently, and exhaled a long wreath of smoke from his nostrils.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • He was a short, puffy little man, with a bullet head at half-cock in the air, producing a general effect of nostrils on you.

British Dictionary definitions for nostrils


either of the two external openings of the nose related adjectives narial narine
Word Origin
Old English nosthyrl, from nosunose + thyrel hole
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 nostrils



Old English nosþyrl, nosðirl, literally "the hole of the nose," from nosu "nose" (see nose (n.)) + þyrel "hole" (see thrill (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nostrils in Medicine

nostril nos·tril (nŏs'trəl)
A naris.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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