Definition of nod in English:



  • 1[no object] Lower and raise one's head slightly and briefly, especially in greeting, assent, or understanding, or to give someone a signal.

    ‘he looked around for support and everyone nodded’
    [with object] ‘she nodded her head in agreement’
    • ‘Quickly the car began to move, and Andrew nodded slightly in acknowledgement.’
    • ‘She nodded in satisfaction and tossed a pretzel onto the middle of the table.’
    • ‘The larger man nodded in approval at Jack's action and then again at his companion.’
    • ‘She nodded curtly in response, then turned back to where she was seated, gazing at the ocean.’
    • ‘They nodded in unison; the contempt in James's eyes was not missed.’
    • ‘Kara nodded not knowing what to say and pushed up against him seeking a tighter embrace.’
    • ‘I nodded to show I understood, and decided to unbutton the coat instead.’
    • ‘Emily nodded slowly in agreement while kicking a box to the corner.’
    • ‘She only nodded in acknowledgment, a sort of lonesome satisfaction flowing into her eyes.’
    • ‘I winked, and he nodded with a big grin as I walked away.’
    • ‘The boy nodded mutely, tears brimming in his eyes.’
    • ‘The girl nodded mutely, turned on her heel, and ran.’
    • ‘He looked around nodding slightly with a light smile.’
    • ‘The question had been more of a statement, and Chet nodded slightly in acknowledgement.’
    • ‘Ace nodded grimly in reply, still keeping his eyes ahead.’
    • ‘Both men nodded in unison, but I could sense their concern.’
    • ‘My eyes stayed focused on the television screen, and I nodded in response.’
    • ‘The little girl nodded solemnly, golden curls bouncing.’
    • ‘Glancing over his shoulder, Max nodded in acknowledgment then turned back to Katharine.’
    • ‘Unable to resist his charm and devastating smile, Blair nodded mutely in response.’
    incline, bob, bow, dip, wag, duck
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    1. 1.1[with object]Signify or express (greeting, assent, or understanding) by nodding.
      ‘he nodded his consent’
      • ‘Ally nodded her understanding; she knew exactly what it was like to have an agent who didn't listen.’
      • ‘Cara nodded her understanding, her eyes still on the still body of Cedric.’
      • ‘With tingling anticipation the audience nodded its agreement that the card the girl had drawn on had indeed been decimated.’
      • ‘‘We never think of that,’ replies George, while Gilbert nods his assent.’
      • ‘The others knew what he was going to say, and nodded their understanding.’
      • ‘He laughed at his own description, nodding assent, and laughing also.’
      • ‘Not to anyone's amazement, a woman was found in the audience who began nodding vigorous assent to everything Charles said.’
      • ‘Shields nods his agreement, but it is qualified.’
      • ‘The teen girl nodded her understanding, and disappeared down the hallway.’
      • ‘Napoleon nodded his understanding, gave me a brief pat, then turned his attention to the stunning woman behind me.’
      • ‘He glared down at Alex, who was nodding a greeting at the teacher and slipping his cell phone into his pocket.’
      • ‘He became quizzical yet some of them nodded their assent or what he took to be assent.’
      • ‘Stifling another giggle, she only nods her agreement, unable to voice her assent.’
      • ‘You'll always find a chorus of people to nod agreement to your stupid charge.’
      • ‘Harry shot a glance at me quickly, before nodding his assent and followed the uniformed officer out of the room.’
      • ‘Rico continued to give various tips and instructions, Chris nodding his understanding throughout the lecture.’
      • ‘‘It's a good time to be a scrum-half,’ Lawson insists and his rival nods his agreement.’
      • ‘They only nodded their agreement, although deep in their hearts they rejected his idea.’
      • ‘Today I nodded my greeting, but he avoided my gaze, and whizzed past with his son.’
      • ‘When I ask her about this, McTeer nods her assent.’
      signal, gesture, gesticulate, motion, sign, indicate
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    2. 1.2informal Approve something by general agreement, without discussion.
      ‘the DTI nodded through the bid from Airtours’
      • ‘So presumably the owners are hoping both councils will be as confused as I am about the boundary and nod it through anyway.’
      • ‘The expectation is that the board will nod them through.’
      • ‘I am disappointed that this change was nodded through without any debate, and treated as a budget-saving measure.’
      • ‘A number of resolutions were nodded through and a couple knocked back.’
      • ‘She can nod the deal through; she can agree to the deal but ask for certain undertakings; or she can refer the matter to the Competition Commission.’
      • ‘But he added that A-Levels were going the way of GCSEs in the sense that universities and companies were increasingly unlikely to look at candidates with less than a C, now that 24 out of 25 entries were nodded through.’
      • ‘The job of members of parliament is to nod the decisions through, and party members will have the task of justifying them to the public.’
      • ‘Even if his political friends were to nod a deal through, there remains Five's major shareholder, the German media group RTL.’
      • ‘The decision to axe the brainwave was nodded through by both Conservative and Labour councillors without debate or comment.’
    3. 1.3Move one's head up and down repeatedly.
      ‘he shut his eyes, nodding to the beat’
      figurative ‘foxgloves nodding by the path’
  • 2[no object] Let one's head fall forward when drowsy or asleep.

    ‘Anna nodded over her book’
    • ‘Basic chores done, I gave up and went to sit in the kitchen, where I slumped in my chair, yawning and nodding.’
    • ‘It's quiet, the woman's out, the kid's asleep, and I am nodding over a notebook and tea, wearing fuzzy slippers.’
    1. 2.1Make a mistake due to a momentary lack of alertness or attention.
      ‘scientific reason, like Homer, sometimes nods’
      • ‘‘Him,’ I said, nodding toward our neighbor, who was revving the engine on his boat.’
      • ‘Blair looked at Jim, nodding toward his injured arm.’
      • ‘The salesman at the counter though said not a word merely nodding toward a door behind him.’
      • ‘She was there with friends, and she nodded toward a small group of white women standing on the outer edge of the dance floor.’
      • ‘He was nodding toward the booth of the Detroit Super Bowl Host Committee, which featured a couch and a fireplace.’
      • ‘The bartender nods toward a brass plate on the bar that reads, No One Under 18 is Permitted.’
      • ‘She nodded toward a corner of the room, where five chairs sat in a semi-circle around the fire.’
      • ‘He offered her a reassuring smile before nodding toward her hand.’
      • ‘‘They look crazy,’ said Jana, nodding toward the table when she saw me looking at them.’
      • ‘‘He marked you,’ the Unicorn said, nodding toward the bruises exposed on my arms.’
      • ‘‘Oh, and look at that,’ he said, elbowing me and nodding toward a woman wearing tight ski pants.’
      • ‘‘Maybe he knows,’ Michael said, nodding toward a grumpy person standing at the foot of the bottom steps.’
      • ‘Evan shook his head and straightened up, nodding toward the ramp.’
      • ‘Beck just nodded his head knowingly, before nodding toward Jesse, whose blonde bangs covered any expression his eyes were holding as they skimmed across the paper.’
      • ‘Giles relaxed into a smile, nodding toward the guards.’
      • ‘I glanced over my shoulder and he nodded toward the bank and I saw it was moving the wrong way.’
      • ‘I sighed quietly and looked over at Quinn, before slipping my hand from Jordan's and nodding toward the open door.’
      • ‘‘Unfortunately, with no wind, this course is a doddle,’ McHenry says, nodding toward the leaderboard.’
      • ‘She caught his gaze and held it evenly, nodding toward the gate.’
      • ‘‘Here comes your brother,’ Chris said, changing the subject and nodding toward the door.’
      make a mistake, be mistaken, be in error, be wrong, be incorrect, get something wrong, make an error, make a slip, err, trip up, stumble
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  • 3Soccer
    [with object and adverbial of direction] Head (the ball) without great force.

    ‘Henry nodded the ball over the line’
    • ‘He swung in a cross which Walker failed to cut out and the Zimbabwe player nodded the ball into an empty net from two yards.’
    • ‘He nodded the ball down only for the goalkeeper to stick out a hand and paw it away.’
    • ‘Delgado chases a long ball from Mendez and nearly gets behind Baszczynski, but the defender finds an extra inch in a desperate final leap to nod the ball back to Boruc.’
    • ‘Again Johnson was the provider with a fine centre, which was knocked back across goal and this time Wright wasn't to be denied, nodding the ball over the line.’
    • ‘As Kahn clutched air, Barmby nodded the ball down for Michael Owen to fire home into an empty net.’
    • ‘County missed a glorious chance when defensive panic from a free-kick caused Gavin to nod the ball over the advancing Henderson.’
    • ‘McNamara gets the closest yet to a goal for either side by nodding the ball wide of Hedman's reach.’
    • ‘The Manchester United midfielder, with his back to the goal, turned brilliantly to float the ball in for Emile Heskey, who was allowed to nod the ball down for Owen.’
    • ‘Shaugnessy grabbed his second seven minutes from time after Rhead had nodded the ball into his path.’
    • ‘Johnson sent in a looping cross from the right and Ferdinand beat two defenders to win the header and nod the ball down for Defoe.’


  • 1An act of nodding the head.

    ‘at a nod from his father he left the room’
    • ‘Alexis returned the embrace and agreed with the slight nod of her head.’
    • ‘He gave her a final nod with a smile, and exited the cabin.’
    • ‘The queen went back to her dinner with a slight nod.’
    • ‘Amanda commented to Jenkins and received a curt nod of acknowledgement.’
    • ‘He just gave a quick and indifferent nod in her direction and walked past.’
    • ‘She gave the men a nod of thanks and quickly closed the door.’
    • ‘After getting nods of agreement from Brad and Natasha, she opened the book.’
    • ‘Nelson gave a curt nod of his head, and Morton picked up the mike at the plot table.’
    • ‘Simon gave Jacob a slow yet reassuring nod.’
    • ‘‘Yes,’ she said with a slight nod and as she started backing slowly away.’
    • ‘‘Anytime,’ I replied, and gave her a slight nod as she departed in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘Marissa gave a curt nod of her head before making her way to one of the two logs.’
    • ‘He turned down the challenge gracefully with a slight nod of approval.’
    • ‘Marvin gave them a slight imperceptible nod and they grinned darkly.’
    • ‘Evan's barely perceptible nod was his only answer.’
    • ‘She did not even have to give the slightest of nods in reply.’
    • ‘Only after their new boss's back was turned did he look up and give Gina a quick acknowledging nod.’
    • ‘He answered my father with a slight nod, his cold eyes never leaving my own.’
    • ‘He just kept on playing, allowing himself only the merest nod of recognition.’
    inclination, bob, bow, dip, duck
    signal, indication, sign, cue
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    1. 1.1A gesture of acknowledgement or concession to.
      ‘the device is a nod to the conventions of slapstick’
      • ‘There even appears to be a nod to her own back pages in ‘Push’, which confirms Europe as a major musical influence.’
      • ‘However, in a nod to modernity there is also a section in the competition for speciality entries allowing exotic variations involving puréed fruit, honey, caramel or whisky.’
      • ‘In a nod to health, a minor one, they had margarine instead of butter.’
      • ‘Because of health and safety regulations, the new owners have had to content themselves with a plastic parrot behind the bar as a nod to the venue's past.’
      • ‘The deodorant and all the rest is merely a nod to convention.’
      • ‘It would indicate thoughtfulness and a nod to common sense.’
      • ‘Like a flat pack, the Grand Opera House pantomime is assembled in next to no time and somehow just about holds together and does the job without a nod to fashion.’
      • ‘There is also a nod to the mayoral experiment in big cities: Labour now believes it has worked in London and would like it to be extended to other centres.’
      • ‘I wouldn't be offended by dubbing, since the words are nothing but a nod to convention.’
      • ‘His most recent tattoo, across his lower back reads, with a nod to John Lennon: ‘All You Need Is Love’.’
      • ‘He became the first dancehall artist to grace the cover of Vibe magazine, the urban music bible, a nod to the rising importance of both the artist and the genre.’
      • ‘This may have been a statement that The Simpsons has survived, but I think instead it is a nod to all those cartoons that did not make it.’
      • ‘He says recent judgments in the courts would appear to be a nod to our legislators to go ahead and enact something similar, but this has yet to materialise.’
      • ‘Hundreds of dancers took spectators on a glitzy trip through Italian history, with a nod to Botticelli, Fellini and Ferrari.’
      • ‘Is the world ready for a comedy action movie that has even the slightest nod to 9/11?’
      • ‘The oven-fried chicken is a nod to the Shake-'n-Bake craze that started in the late 1960s.’
      • ‘A surprising twist in the film was the number of perfectly placed celebrity cameos, a nod to actors with failing careers who are hoping to steal a laugh.’
      • ‘Virtually every guitar solo featured on their fourth studio album is a nod to the hard rock hair bands of the early '90s.’
      • ‘Creating characters is almost a game in itself, and in a nod to the genome project, their looks and characteristics are passed on to children.’
      • ‘Built in the late Seventies, when the Troubles were at their most incendiary, it casts more than a nod to the brutalist school of architecture.’


  • nodding acquaintance

    • A slight acquaintance with a person or knowledge of a subject.

      ‘students will need a nodding acquaintance with three other languages’
      • ‘Now, I would have thought that anyone who has had even a nodding acquaintance with Econ 101 would have figured that as the most natural outcome of market integration.’
      • ‘Moderation is the inseparable companion of wisdom, but with it genius has not even a nodding acquaintance.’
      • ‘It's a production designed with short attention spans in mind, although it helps if you have at least a nodding acquaintance with the plays themselves.’
      • ‘It only takes a nodding acquaintance with this man to realise that that is not his nature.’
      • ‘There were three women; I was on nodding acquaintance with one of them, so we exchanged greetings.’
      • ‘But I was hesitant to do that because, frankly, some of the news these days looks to have little more than a nodding acquaintance with reality and doesn't make any coherent sense to me at all.’
      • ‘The price has little more than a nodding acquaintance with the actual value; the only thing that matters is what the next sucker in line is willing to pay.’
      • ‘Parody clicks only when the viewer identifies with the subject, and London as of now is only starting to make more than a nodding acquaintance with Indian culture.’
      • ‘We can rely on these crowds to be reasonably well behaved and to have at least a nodding acquaintance with the laws of the game.’
      • ‘There was no evidence of anything beyond a nodding acquaintance between the two neighbours.’
      bit, small amount, little, modicum, touch, soupçon
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  • be on nodding terms

    • Know someone slightly.

      ‘the two girls are not even on nodding terms with each other’
      • ‘I'm on nodding terms with my two immediate neighbours.’
      • ‘I can't pretend to be on great terms with my neighbours on this estate - but I try to be on nodding terms, at least with the ones I recognise.’
      • ‘Wiggins struck gold on the track in Athens last year and is on nodding terms with the American great.’
      • ‘It helped that I was on nodding terms with the actress he was talking to, so I clumsily barged in.’
      • ‘By now almost on nodding terms with Aer Lingus's pilots, we booked yet another four-day stint to be sure, to be sure.’
      • ‘If you don't know what they look like you will only stand a chance if you are on nodding terms with someone who does know what they look like, though you can feel a real idiot by having to ask.’
      • ‘Through Saturday evening and Sunday, I was on nodding terms with several groups of pathologists who had theories that produced a wide range of diagnoses.’
      • ‘After the first few nights he was on nodding terms with late night police patrols and staff at the 24-hour Tesco store.’
  • get the nod

    • 1Be selected or approved.

      ‘I think Hooper will get the nod as he's been playing really well recently’
      • ‘Glasgow got the nod over Edinburgh as Scotland's standard-bearer, but events industry insiders and business leaders are already voicing fears, even before the planned feasibility study gets under way.’
      • ‘As reported by the Press, Brough got the nod from rugby league writers following his starring role in the 58-16 win at Dewsbury a fortnight ago.’
      • ‘In fact, it even got the nod as the speculative selection in the first edition of our value newsletter.’
      • ‘If Mary gets the nod from the Irish selectors it will be her first Senior international and a wonderful achievement for this young athlete.’
      • ‘Not the case, however, the selectors stayed loyal, and Kennedy gets the nod.’
      • ‘Not only was he voted biggest movie star, he got the nod as the most irritating film star of the last 16 years, too, for his breathtaking displays of irregular behaviour over the course of last year.’
      • ‘Abbott filed for Food & Drug Administration approval in April and is hoping to get the nod in the first quarter of 2003.’
      • ‘It's science fact - futuristic ideas, conceived by imaginative young men, whose crazy-sounding schemes have got the nod from the scientists.’
      • ‘Crunch time will come for the selectors on September 27, when they decide who gets the nod for subsequent World Cup shows.’
      • ‘Last year the calculator almost denied Shanahoe a place in the championship semi-final, but by a percentage point they got the nod.’
      be selected, be chosen, be picked, make the grade
      be capped
      get a guernsey
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    • 2Receive a signal or information.

      ‘I got the nod that the government were looking for ex-army officers to form a new force’
      • ‘As the game progressed I was itching to get a run and with eight minutes to go, I got the nod to enter the fray.’
      • ‘Michael Lawlor only got the nod that he was starting minutes before the game as players were put under pressure to perform.’
  • give someone/thing the nod

    • 1Select or approve someone or something.

      ‘they banned one book but gave the other the nod’
      • ‘Already the commentators were talking them up as the better team and giving them the nod to advance to the next phase.’
      • ‘The Abbotstown racecourse project, which looked dead in the water when Dundalk was given the nod for Ireland's first all-weather track, is deliberately being kept alive by Horse Racing Ireland.’
      • ‘So far, things are looking distinctly Brokeback Mountain coloured, after the film was given the nod by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Golden Globes and the Producers Guild Of America.’
      • ‘Because of that experience, I give them the nod.’
      • ‘Were the White House to give you the nod, what is the very first thing you would say?’
      • ‘The bureaucrats in NZ were also giving the deal the nod.’
      • ‘If Glasgow is given the nod over Edinburgh, it makes it more likely that tourists from eastern Scotland will have to continue travelling through to the west of Scotland for many destinations and chartered flights.’
      • ‘Residents in Heysham are furious that a blueprint for the watering hole was given the nod by Lancaster City Councillors despite more than 40 objections.’
      • ‘A committee goes into details of the couple, financial, maturity and willingness level, before giving them the nod.’
      • ‘And we even hesitate after technologies have been given the nod.’
      select, choose, pick, go for
      approve, agree to, sanction, ratify, endorse, say yes to, give one's approval to, rubber-stamp
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    • 2Give someone a signal.

      ‘just give me the nod’
      • ‘But until you are given the nod, there is nothing you can do.’
      • ‘Mel comes back, Mark gives me the nod, and a second later he's crashing to the floor.’
      • ‘I looked at Chaz, giving him the nod to order the drinks.’
      • ‘Is our job done when the US gives us the nod, as usual?’
      • ‘I'll give you the nod when we get our licence and location sorted out.’
      • ‘The orchestra leader looks around nervously, and the camera finally settles on Rick, who gives him the nod.’
      • ‘When they give you the nod, then move the rod to the gimbal.’
      • ‘Mr Oxley said that £30,000 was already in the bank and the council had been given the nod that other funding was on the way to make up the rest of the costs.’
      • ‘But then, about 20-30 minutes later (or however long it was - time really had no meaning to me by this stage), we were given the nod.’
      • ‘Seanie came back anyway, I gave him the nod, ‘we'd better be moving on!’’
  • a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse

    • proverb Used to convey that a hint or suggestion can be or has been understood without the need of further elaboration or explanation.

      ‘of course, we can't discuss it over the telephone, but a nod's as good as a wink, and I promise I'll be very careful’
      • ‘So, if a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, I think I can almost safely assume we are good enough for this particular rental agency.’
      • ‘West Ham threw up their hands in horror, claiming they'd never gone near him, but a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, and why talk to him directly when you can put it all in the papers?’
  • on the nod

    • 1informal By general agreement and without discussion.

      ‘parliamentary approval of the treaty went through on the nod’
      • ‘Why can't they just put it through on the nod for Heaven's Sake?’
      • ‘More than anything else, it's important there is resistance rather than cuts just going through on the nod.’
      • ‘The overspill office block built for Westminster cost more, and that went through on the nod, with none of the controversy and bad publicity attached.’
      • ‘Turning for home Vintage Storm was joined by All the Swallows and it was nip and tuck all the way to the finish with Vintage Storm winning on the nod by a head in 29.84.’
      • ‘Why it felt this was necessary is something that no one can adequately explain, especially since very similar reports were passed through on the nod.’
      • ‘The item was not actually discussed but instead went through on the nod.’
      • ‘'You never hear about the ones that go through on the nod,' he says.’
      • ‘However, decisions are made and go through on the nod before the inconvenience of having to notify the public.’
      • ‘My divorce went through on the nod, but I didn't fight it, believing it to be the only option for both of us.’
      • ‘Fortunately, this application is unlikely to pass on the nod.’
    • 2informal On credit.

      ‘the bookie took his bet on the nod’
    • 3informal Alternating between wakefulness and sleepiness on account of heroin use.

Phrasal Verbs

  • nod off

    • Fall asleep, especially briefly or unintentionally.

      ‘he nodded off during the sermon’
      • ‘After a while, the girls had quieted down enough for Shannon to fall asleep and for Sarah to start nodding off, yet again.’
      • ‘Eric was up an about this morning when we got up this morning before nodding off again and has been asleep for the last few hours.’
      • ‘He admitted that he had nearly nodded off just before the crash.’
      • ‘I thought I was going to fall asleep, but every time I began to nod off, my dad would elbow me slightly.’
      • ‘Find yourself nodding off at your desk by mid-afternoon, then failing asleep during your favorite TV show in the evening?’
      • ‘The road continues to unwind, and Frank nods off briefly, before snapping awake after a close call.’
      • ‘But for once she had nothing to lean against and she had the impression that if she nodded off anymore, she might possibly fall off her horse.’
      • ‘I ate a light breakfast and nodded off to asleep again, sleepy from the previous night's restlessness.’
      • ‘The defendant is very sorry for causing the fatal accident, Your Honour, it was unintentional, he nodded off whilst driving.’
      • ‘As the driver's head falls forward as he starts to nod off, the audible alarm is activated.’
      fall asleep, go to sleep, get to sleep, doze off, drop off
      go off, drift off, crash out, flake out, go out like a light, conk out
      sack out, zone out
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Late Middle English (as a verb): perhaps of Low German origin; compare with Middle High German notten move about, shake. The noun dates from the mid 16th century.