Keep your nose to the grindstone


      • work diligently
        Encourage someone to stay focused and work hard on a task or project

      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

    Examples of Keep your nose to the grindstone

    • Jane has been keeping her nose to the grindstone lately, working long hours at the office to finish a crucial project by the deadline.

      This idiom means that Jane has been working diligently and focusing all her efforts on the task at hand. "Nose to the grindstone" refers to someone's head bent down in intense concentration, as if their nose is touching the grindstone, an old-fashioned tool used in grinding. The phrase highlights the need to work hard and persevere in the face of challenges.

    • Despite the overwhelming workload, Sarah kept her nose to the grindstone and worked tirelessly until the project was completed.

      This idiom, "Keep your nose to the grindstone," means to work hard and diligently, especially in the face of difficult or challenging circumstances. It originated from the idea of a blacksmith's apprentice grinding stones into bits, where the stone was literally attached to the grindstone. The apprentice's nose would be close to the stone as they worked, emphasizing the sheer hard work required to achieve success. In Sarah's case, she persevered and dedicated herself fully to the task at hand, ultimately seeing the project through to the end.


    The idiom "keep your nose to the grindstone" can be used both to encourage someone to work hard and stay focused, as well as to caution against engaging in a task that may not yield positive results. It can be used in various contexts, whether in a professional setting or in personal endeavors, to emphasize the importance of diligence and hard work.

    Origin of "Keep your nose to the grindstone"

    The origin of the idiom "keep your nose to the grindstone" dates back to the early 19th century, when it was a common practice for workers to use a grindstone to sharpen tools. To use the grindstone effectively, the worker would need to keep their nose close to the stone while turning the crank, in order to ensure that the tool was being sharpened properly. This required great focus and diligence, as any distraction could lead to a poor result.

    Over time, the idiom evolved to symbolize the idea of working hard and staying focused on a task, much like the workers who kept their noses to the grindstone to sharpen their tools. Today, it is used to encourage diligence and hard work, as well as to caution against engaging in tasks that may not yield positive outcomes.