Why do we say "It's no skin off my nose"?

Well-Known Expressions

It's no skin off my nose

Meaning:

It doesn't bother me

Background:

There seem to be many different theories on the source of this expression. Gregory Titelman's America's Popular Proverbs and Sayings says the expression of of boxing origin and dates from the early 20th century. The expression is used in a 1910 edition of Cosmopolitan, back when it was called The Cosmopolitan and was a "family magazine" very different to its current incarnation.

But others disagree, with some claiming it that its roots are not in the boxing arena but in the mill - that it is, in essence, the opposite of "putting your nose to the grindstone" - the fact that there is no skin off my nose indicates that I didn't put in as much effort as the person who put their nose in the grindstone, so to speak.

The boxing background appears to carry the most credibility - but for some light relief you might enjoy this colorful tale involving 16th century clandestine cabbage worshipers sticking their noses through holes in doors!

Incidentally, apparently some say "it's no skin off my teeth", which appears to be a muddled version of the expression under discussion and "skin of my teeth", which has its origins in the Book of Job: "My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth."

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Ensemble
    The Ensemble
    by Aja Gabel
    In May 1994, the members of the Van Ness String Quartet are completing their final graduate recital ...
  • Book Jacket: The Electric Woman
    The Electric Woman
    by Tessa Fontaine
    In 2010, author Tessa Fontaine's mother had a near-fatal hemorrhagic stroke, leaving her with a...
  • Book Jacket: The Female Persuasion
    The Female Persuasion
    by Meg Wolitzer
    A college freshman struggling for identity. A 1960s feminist icon attempting to maintain her ...
  • Book Jacket: A Lucky Man
    A Lucky Man
    by Jamel Brinkley
    If his debut collection of short stories, A Lucky Man is any indicator, Jamel Brinkley is poised on ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Harbor of Spies by Robin Lloyd

A captivating thriller-at-sea set in Spanish colonial Havana in the 1860s.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Eternal Life
    by Dara Horn

    The award-winning author returns with an ingenious novel about what it would mean to live forever.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Comedown

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin

A blistering dark comedy that explores delineating lines of race, class, religion, and time.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.