keep your nose clean


keep your nose clean


  • to stay out of trouble by not doing anything wrong
  • to avoid acts that will make your reputation questionable

Example Sentences

  1. By avoiding the drug dealers on the corner street, James was making an effort to keep his nose clean.
  2. The officer kept his nose clean by not associating with the known corrupt policemen at the bureau.
  3. I have learned that the best way to avoid getting in trouble with the police is to keep one’s nose clean.
  4. It is hard for Lisa to keep her nose clean when several members of her family are involved in one crime or the other.
  5. Everyone urged Matt to keep his nose clean by avoiding Peter’s company following the warrant issued for his arrest.


This phrase originated from another phrase which is “keep the hands clean” which was widely used in England in the 18th century, This phrase meant to avoid corruption and when it became adopted in the US, it became modified to “keep your nose clean” which literally meant to keep your nose out of what doesn’t concern you. This new phrase then became widely adopted to mean avoiding doing anything shady.

Share your thoughts3 Thoughts

I have never heard that phrase to do anything with cocaine and I done cooking for years I mean I've been clean for 8 years but I never heard that term they use that way for that reason now keep your nurse out of it other people's business I've heard that part you know but really keep your nose clean really actually to mean to me and everybody else I know is to just not get in trouble and stay out of trouble.

- Bradley Eugene Myers September 6, 2023

This idiom has, unsurprisingly, turned into slang for cocaine. Essentially meaning "you need to keep your nose clean so lay off cocaine" ~Or~ "you shouldn't try cocaine. Instead you should keep your nose clean." ~Or~ "cocaine is a difficult addition to break so it's to just keep your nose clean."

- Lanna Banana MooMoo April 8, 2022

Solving idioms is to fix something bad, polite or impolite, to help with socialism. That is how speech-language pathology comes about.

- Anonymous August 21, 2019

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