A Modern Version for the Origin of “Being Nosey”

Have you ever wondered where the expression “being nosey” came from? I know that we use it to refer to people who have the habit of getting into other people’s business. But it is curious that we say someone is “nosy” but we don’t say she is “eyey” or “eary,” even though it is obvious that some get into other people’s business by means of eyes and ears as well.have my own modern version for its origins.

Well, I don’t have time to Google “nosey” tonight but I have my own modern story that may illustrate how it came to be and it happened one lazy afternoon in Macapá, the city in northern Brazil where I spent 12 years of my life. I was taking my morning walk on one of my summer trips there leading a short-term mission trip. Suddenly, I heard some noise coming from across the street. It turned out it a fight was starting inside a house. People were screaming and bodies were being thrown around. I stood up and watched from a distance. The house was built on a little mound and there was a big window that opened to the street.

Now, before I tell you what happened, you have to know that people in northern Brazil love to watch a fight. In fact, it is so irresistibly attractive that there were a couple of time when I was riding the city bus when the bus driver stopped the bus on the side of the road, people got out and walked right up to watch whatever fight was going on in the streets. Free entertainment. Except it was not totally free — a friend of mine was hit by a stray bulletin once when he tried to separate two guys who were fighting. As a result, he became a paraplegic and a bitter man to this day.

So some people naturally joined me on the up other side of the road, trying to get a front row view of the fight. Some were even jumping and down to try to see the action a little better, since the house sat a little higher from the road. But there are those who always want more. One guy was just strolling down the road on his bike when he noticed the commotion. Quickly, he dismounted, launching his bike onto the ground and taking a little sprint toward the house. He climbed the little mound and stuck his face right in the middle of the big open window.

Then it happened — baaam! Somebody threw a hard punch, right down the middle of the guy’s nose. Having nothing to hold on to, he rolled back down to the bottom of the mound. He put his hand on his nose, looked around as if checking to see if anybody noticed, quickly picked up his bike and rode away a little discombobulated but get out of there with a little bigger nose but a lot less noisy (you would hope).

So now you understand the modern origin of the expression “being nosey.”

And now comes the shocker: About 3,000 years ago a wise king had already warned against “being nosy.” Here is what he said, “Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.” (Proverbs 26:17). 

Question: Doesn’t the way he writes sound like it was he and not me who was standing across the street when that “free punch” was being thrown across the window? It is amazing to me how the Bible is still applicable to today. And that is one of the reasons I read of chapter of Proverbs every day. It helps me to keep my nose to myself. A proverb a day will keep stupid away…

Ivanildo C. Trindade

“… he who hurries his footsteps errs.” (Proverbs 19:2b).