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: Southernmost
    Southernmost
    by Silas House
    Southernmost opens with a devastating flood in Cumberland Valley, Tennessee. Could it be divine ...
  • Book Jacket: Confessions of the Fox
    Confessions of the Fox
    by Jordy Rosenberg
    In Confessions of the Fox, a fictional academic, Dr. Voth, finds a manuscript in the library where ...
  • Book Jacket: Tango Lessons
    Tango Lessons
    by Meghan Flaherty
    Meghan Flaherty's touching memoir, Tango Lessons, reveals some hard but important truths about ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson
    Joshilyn Jackson's The Almost Sisters is a powerful look at the intersection of privilege, family, ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Fly Girls
    by Keith O'Brien

    How five daring women defied all odds and made aviation history.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our House
    by Louise Candlish

    A disturbing and addictive novel of domestic suspense.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    So Much Life Left Over
    by Louis de Bernieres

    An evocative and emotional novel set between the World Wars.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Vox

VOX by Christina Dalcher

The story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter in a society where half the population is silenced.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T B Y Speak

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.