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How come our nose run and our feet smell? What is the etymology of this paradox phrase?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Kristina Lopez, ermanen, FumbleFingers, Robusto, DJClayworth Jul 15 '15 at 16:25

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    What's the paradox? Are you familiar with the concept of metaphor? And did you know that smell can mean either 'produce a smell' or 'notice a smell'? – John Lawler Jul 15 '15 at 15:34
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    It's a joke. Goodness only knows where or when old jokes started, – Margana Jul 15 '15 at 22:03
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There isn't one. Smelly feet/feet smell refers to the odour or scent given off by the feet:

smell, v.

  1. a. intr. To give out, send forth, or exhale an odour; to have a smell, scent, etc.

A runny nose uses the following definition of runny:

runny, adj.

  1. a. Tending to run or flow; having the consistency of liquid, fluid, not set; soft, melting; watery.

  2. orig. U.S. Of the nose: running, discharging mucus. Of the eyes: watering, or tending to water.

  • I would argue that runny in this context refers to definition 4.4: To emit or exude liquid. (I don't have access to the oed to check if this definition is in your dictionary as well) – scohe001 Jul 15 '15 at 15:40
  • @scohe001 the OED is online (click the words themselves for the links) and I think you may be correct, so I'll change it. Thanks. – Blubberguy22 Jul 15 '15 at 15:41
  • It's online if you have an account for it... – scohe001 Jul 15 '15 at 15:43
  • @scohe001 That's odd; I can use the links and I don't have an account (for e.g., the runny one: oed.com/view/Entry/168945). – Blubberguy22 Jul 15 '15 at 15:44
  • @Blubberguy22 Are you perchance sitting in a library or an academic institution of higher learning? – DRF Jul 15 '15 at 15:44
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No paradox, just ordinary language I'd say:

Runny:

  • more liquid than usual: The sauce looked runny so I added some more flour.

  • If your nose is runny, it is producing more mucus than usual, usually because you are ill: I've got a runny nose.

Smell:

  • (intr. ) to emit an unpleasant odour; stink

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