According to Maureen Dowd's article in New York Times (May 20) under the headline, “Remember to forget,” the European Court of Justice ruled last week that Google and other search engines can be forced to remove search results about ordinary citizens linking to news articles, websites, court records and other documents if the information is deemed “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” - even if it is truthful.

She wrote;

Jaron Lanier, the author of “Who Owns the Future?” and a man known as “the father of virtual reality,” vehemently agrees (the ruling). He thinks the ruling rebuts Big Data’s “infantile desire for immediate gratification" where you get to know everyone else’s secrets even as you seek to keep your own. In order for others to be free, that means you don’t get to stuff your nose into all their orifices all the time.


I was unable to find out the meaning of the phrase “stuff one’s nose into (all) one’s orifices” in either of CED and OED, nor on Google search.

What does it mean? Is it an idiom?

Is “you don’t get to stuff ...” the same in meaning as “you don’t have to stuff ...”?

  • 2
    Literally regarding your final sentence: the exact sentence quoted in bold simply means: "You don't get to: be extremely intrusive." the phrase stuff your nose into all their orifices all the time simply translates to "be extremely intrusive" (example, Google is extremely intrusive).
    – Fattie
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 8:40
  • 3
    Your title has incorrectly converted the original sense. Repeating the "one's" implies it's your own orifices.
    – user24964
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 9:24
  • TheMathemagician. Thank you for your pointing out. I returned the title to the writer's original wording. Commented May 21, 2014 at 20:06

4 Answers 4


I've never heard of this term. There are idioms that are close in form and connotation, such as "stick one's nose in XYZ." I wouldn't call "stuffing one's nose into another's orifices" an idiom, but rather just creative hyperbole on behalf of the person being quoted (note - the writer is quoting Jaron Lanier here; these aren't Dowd's own words).

In my opinion, the term describes one who is excessively intrusive. Moreover, there is an aspect of vulgarity to it, which further emphasizes this sentiment.

  • Right .. it's not a "creative" hyperbole, it's just a confused mixing of a couple of different typical slang forms. I believe it is perfectly, absolutely, obvious what is meant ("excessively intrusive**, just as you say), but it's a bit mixed-up.
    – Fattie
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 8:36
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    @JoeBlow I would call a mixing of different terms, producing a new term by which a user with over 20K+ reputation is asking a question about, creative. But, I guess it's ultimately subjective. Cheers.
    – njboot
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 8:45
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    Dude, I don't think Yoichi wrote it? Some fool author or journalist wrote it, with the typical bad, "over-reaching" writing of today. I guess the points are: (a) your phrase "excessively intrusive" is perfect; (b) I disagree with you that it's creative, for me it's just mixed-up. (Sure, that's subjective.) Yoichi asks fascinating questions about English -- go back over my many very long answers to some of his stuff!
    – Fattie
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 9:02
  • 1
    @JoeBlow Gotcha...apologies if I came off as brash. Regards.
    – njboot
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 9:05
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    Not only was the implication vulgarity, but also that it is a violation, which is a very common word when discussion privacy issues. Think of the phrase literally. It certainly would be a violation if someone attempted to put their nose in one of your orifices.
    – user39425
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 17:53

To stuff (meaning here ‘to stick’) your nose (being nosy) into every orifice (most likely in particular the rear one) is to be understood almost literally here.

If you stick your nose in other people’s business, you are being unduly curious and nosy about what other people do. Substituting other people’s orifices, which is even closer to them as they’re part of their own physical body, just makes it even more of an intrusion into their privacy. The notion implied is that with the amoun of data available on the Internet about regular people nowadays, it is possible not only to be curious and gain knowledge about someone’s business (their more professional business affairs), but even their private, personal space and lives.

  • 7
    ("almost literally" makes absolutely no sense here, man!)
    – Fattie
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 8:35

Note that the key element to understand here is that:

The writer mixed together two (or three) idioms.

There are two possible reasons for this.

(1) Simply, the writer is stupid. the writer is not totally famiilar with the idioms in question, and hence, has "messily" created a mixture

(2) It's possible the writer is deliberately "mixing up" idioms, for a sort of humorous, silly effect.

Note that, almost certainly, it is (1).

It's important to understand that this phenomenon is fairly common in English today. The reason is a combination of these two factors: (a) English writers are becoming more and more sloppy and illiterate (this applies all through the pipeline from writers to editors) and (b) there is a desire to sound pretentious - clever - tricky. When you combine (a) and (b) you get precisely the effect under discussion.

It should be noted that this can be very, very confusing to advanced students of English.

Because naturally the first question you ask is "Why would this be done - is it some sort of 'other' idiomatic form, is there a secret local meaning, or?" ... however the answer is, simply "total, unmitigated, raw seething stupidity, combined with general societal-academic collapse." It's important to realise that, for example, any copy editor until, say, maybe as late as the 1970s, would - very simply - just strike through the above example as a typo and fill in the correct single idiom, and give it no further thought. However today you see what can only be called, in a word "mistakes," like this everywhere. Particularly because of factor (b) above.

Yoichi, it's simply a reference to "being nosey".

You know that word, right, being "nosey"?

Often "put your nose in to other people's business"

Stage two:

Now, there's a common phrase "you have your head up your ass" meaning, you're stupid.

Note too there are various similar phrases like, "shove it up your ass" ("what should I do with this Report?" "shove it up your ass" etc.). there's also threats like "I'll rip your head off and shove it up your ass", etc etc.

Stage three:

Now, people often extend those phrases, using the humorous word "orifice(s)".

(NOTE: The word "orifice" sounds funny in English, perhaps because it's slightly technical sounding; it's a funny substitute for "asshole" or "mouth" or any other orifice. English spends a lot of time snickering at certain words: it's important to note that some words "just sound funny". Indeed, for example, professional comedians point out that "k" is the most-humorous letter sound in English. For this reason, comedic characters are quite often "kramer", etc. Anyway - people think "orifice" is just "funny", it's a "funny!!" substitute for saying asshole.)

So you hear "put your head up your orifice" or other variations of other phrases, using orifice. (Eg, "I'll rip your head off and shove it up one of your orifices" or "take your report and shove it in an orifice of your choosing")

Stage four:

Coming back to the phrase "put your nose in other people's business" ...

you can see that you can RATHER MESSILY add the "orifice substitution" concept.

"My sister is very nosey, she spends all day with her nose in someone's orifice"

Consider say "get your nose out of my business..." you could use the "funny orifice substitution" and say "Get your nose out of my orifice"

So this is exactly an example of that.

The writer is (very messily) mixing up "nose in business" or perhaps "get your nose out of my face" with the "funny orifice substitution"

That's it.

To recap, the "funny orifice substitution" is "more properly" used (so to speak!) with phrases like "shove it up your asshole" or "stuffing food in his face" {hence "shove it up your orifice!" "stuffing food in every orifice!"} ... but in this case the "funny orifice substitution" is being "less properly" used with the "nose in your business" concept.

I hope it helps!


The key part is the 'all orifices' in the same way that when you visit a doctor, the doctor may want to look in all your orifices - ear, nose, throat, eyes, armits (glands) and other passage ways to see the signs of what ails you that you would only let a suitably qualified medic look at, not some arbitary nosy person who never forgets and will tell all and sundry.

The allusion to the back passage orifice gives it that extra bite.

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