win (something) by a nose

win (something) by a nose

To succeed or defeat someone in something by only a very narrow margin. Making huge gains during the final lap, the underdog rookie managed to overtake the reigning champion and win the race by a nose. We only won by a nose, but at least we got the conviction we were looking for.
See also: nose, win

win by a nose

Fig. to win by the slightest amount of difference. (Can be literal in horses races.) I ran the fastest race I could, but I only won by a nose. Sally won the race, but she only won by a nose.
See also: nose, win

win by a nose

Also, win by a whisker. Just barely succeed, as in Sally's political cartoon came in first in the contest, but I heard that she won by a nose . This term comes from horseracing, where from about 1900 on it referred to a finish so close that only a portion of the horse's nose reached the finish ahead of the second horse. A whisker-that is, a hair-is a narrower margin yet. [Second half of 1900s]
See also: nose, win