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: Everything Inside
    Everything Inside
    by Edwidge Danticat
    Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American writer, and Haiti looms large as a presence in this ...
  • Book Jacket: The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    by Christy Lefteri
    In Christy Lefteri's sophomore novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the author introduces readers to ...
  • Book Jacket: Marilou Is Everywhere
    Marilou Is Everywhere
    by Sarah Elaine Smith
    "The point is that at that moment in my life," writes the narrator of Sarah Elaine Smith's debut ...
  • Book Jacket: Let's Call It a Doomsday
    Let's Call It a Doomsday
    by Katie Henry
    However the world will end, Ellis Kimball is ready for it. Her obsessive stash of survivalist ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Secrets We Kept
    by Lara Prescott

    Reese Witherspoon's Sept Book Club Pick!
    "This is the rare page-turner with prose that’s as wily as its plot."—EW
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Yale Needs Women
    by Anne Gardiner Perkins

    A tale of courage in the face of arrogance that remains eerily relevant on U.S. campuses today.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michele Richardson

A story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Chase Darkness with Me

How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders

Have you ever wanted to solve a murder? Gather the clues the police overlooked? Put together the pieces? Identify the suspect?

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

S S A C A Big S

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.