After reading this thread: When would you use 低い【ひくい】 vs 短い【みじかい】, I'd just thought of something.

I once heard that a long nose (witch / Pinocchio) is called 高い鼻 and not 長い鼻 whereas the opposite (short nose) is called 低い鼻 and never 短い鼻. but i couldn't be sure (i mean in english, a tall nose just sounds wrong)

Does anyone know what's the difference between a 低い鼻 vs 短い鼻 and a 高い鼻 vs a 長い鼻 ?

  • 2
    I think @Hikari may be onto something here: you might be misinterpreting the actual use of 高い/低い... The words are definitely common when describing the noses of westerners vs. Japanese, when describing the bridge of their nose. Westerners' noses tend to be longer, but also have a higher bridge. More than the length/size of the tip, it is the height of the bridge that Japanese often focus on. – Dave Jun 25 '11 at 2:33
  • nice, that's an interesting point – Pacerier Jun 25 '11 at 4:27

The distinction is not directly due to human vs. non-human as the other answers say. In case of human, people are interested in the distance of the tip of the nose from the surface of the face (excluding the nose); hence the concept of height is relevant. With elephants, their nose is not a solid thing sticking straight out of their face. Rather, its hanging off the face; hence the notion of length is more appropriate.


In japanese, you say 鼻が高い when you are talking about people like American because japanese has low nose -_-

  • Do you have any idea for 短い、長い、低い? – YOU Jun 25 '11 at 3:03
  • you dont use 短い and 長い for a person as the other said.. – Hikari Iwasaki Jun 25 '11 at 3:49
  • ok cool i think that cleared up some doubts. btw just a quick question.. assuming Pinnochio is a human (image: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinocchio), is his nose 高い or 長い ? – Pacerier Jun 25 '11 at 4:27
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    well, it's 長い since Pinnochio was not a human first. – Hikari Iwasaki Jun 26 '11 at 0:17
  • That's odd, because I was quite sure I was told that it was 高い instead of 長い... – Pacerier Nov 1 '13 at 10:24

One does say "象は鼻が長い" ("the elephant has a long nose"). 長い here seems to be limited to animals. I guess the same goes for 短かい。

For people, you'd go for the 高い/低い pair.

By the way, "鼻が高い" also means "to be proud".

  • btw, as per the question i've posted to Hikari, should we call the nose Pinnochio has 高い (considering we are treating him as a human here) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinocchio – Pacerier Jun 29 '11 at 14:10
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    You'll never get a satisfying answer to "what if Pinnochio was a human." There is probably not standard way to describe accurately things that do not exist… – Axioplase Jun 30 '11 at 1:46
  • ok noted – Pacerier Jun 30 '11 at 4:12

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