count noses

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count noses

To count the number of people in a group to ensure that everyone is present. Everyone, take your seats on the bus so that I can count noses before we leave the museum.
See also: count, nose

count noses

Also, count heads. Reckon up the number of those present. For example, The theater seemed only half-full, so the producer decided to count noses, or Our tour leader was always careful to count heads before the bus started off. This idiom was originally put as tell noses. [Mid-1600s]
See also: count, nose

count noses

count people, typically in order to determine the numbers in a vote.
See also: count, nose

count noses, to

To determine the number of persons present. The term may come from horse dealers, who count their stock by the nose (whereas cattle dealers count by the “head”). However, it has been around a long time, since the seventeenth century, when it was sometimes put as “to tell noses.” In 1711 the earl of Shaftesbury, a moral philosopher who studied with John Locke, wrote, “Some modern zealots appear to have no better knowledge of truth, nor better manner of judging it, than by counting noses” (Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times).
See also: count
References in periodicals archive ?
While he spun his conversational wheels, I counted noses. There were 17 of us seated on assorted lawn chairs that Sunday evening.
NBC counted noses and ruefully concluded that rearing the Suleman brood will cost $1.5 million.
"A friend of mine counted noses [at the office] and came away with 88.
We rallied up 300 feet off the nose as briefed before takeoff, watched out for the emergency equipment, counted noses, and began discussing what had happened.
Kirk Hadaway, a sociologist employed by the United Church of Christ, assembled an army of researchers and counted noses in every Protestant church in Ashtabula County, Ohio.