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I'm trying to figure out a word that describes a nose in a pleasing way. I.e.

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted into the __ of passers by.

Nasal cavity — too scientific, beak/snout — too animalistic, nose — too boring.

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There’s nothing wrong with nose, but you can always use something non-physical, like notice or attention. –  tchrist Mar 2 '13 at 14:15
    
Might the word nostrils would work for you? Or would that smell too rank? –  J.R. Mar 2 '13 at 17:19
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Or leave the details out and have the aroma waft over the people rather than into some specific part of them. –  Kate Gregory Mar 2 '13 at 17:31
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Baking bread bouquet blew bystanders' bills. –  coleopterist Mar 3 '13 at 6:20
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I thought Loudon Wainright III handled it nicely in his song "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road": "You don't have to look and you don't have to see/'Cause you can feel it in your olfactory." –  Sven Yargs Mar 3 '13 at 21:03
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5 Answers

While nose is indeed ok, and perhaps is best among it and its synonyms, you might metonymically or synecdochically use the word face instead. For example,

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted into the smiling, uplifted faces of passersby.

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Well done. I can see their noses tipping up to capture the smell. –  Wayne Johnston Mar 3 '13 at 3:44
    
That's a nice one. –  The Frog Mar 3 '13 at 16:57
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There is nothing wrong with nose. It is a perfectly polite, well brought up and pleasant word. It has no unpleasant connotations that I am aware of. If you really really don't want to use it, you could wax a little lyrical like so

The smell of freshly baked bread tickled the olfactory nerves of passers by.

This, however, is stilted and sounds pretentious. My friendly thesaurus (whom I recommend you befriend yourself) suggests:

adenoids, beak, bill*, horn, muzzle, nares, nostrils, olfactory nerves, proboscis, schnoz, smeller, sneezer, sniffer, snoot, snout, snuffer, whiffer

Of all these words, the best is the simple nose. I don't know why you are prejudiced against it.

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I'd go a little more fanciful, yet, and say:

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted into the deepest pleasure senses and happy memories of the passers by.

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I prefer nose. Any alternative sounds as if it had been written by Amanda McKittrick Ross. –  The Frog Mar 3 '13 at 16:49
    
@TheFrog - to each his own (and the author's name is Ros, not Ross) :-) –  Kristina Lopez Mar 3 '13 at 17:03
    
Yes, you are correct Amanda McKittrick Ros was her pen name. She probably found her real name, Ross, as dull as the word nose. –  The Frog Mar 3 '13 at 17:14
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Why do you think that nose is "on the nose' ? Just being a little nosy. I think "wafted" is a rather ordinary word that is overused. I would prefer something a bit more imaginative, for example, the smell of bread tantalized passers by.

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I think what you are trying to say is that you want a "cuter" substitution for nose. While not as commonly used, I think the word "neb" might suit you here.

The smell of freshly baked bread wafted into the nebs of passers by.

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