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For some unfathomable reason clown nose seems to be absent from every monolingual dictionary (at least on the Internet), so I have to come up with my own definition for a flashcard.

Does

A costume accessory worn by circus clowns on top of their nose, typically spherical-cap-shaped and made from red foam or rubber.

sound right?

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  • "Spherical-cap-shaped" is confusing. Depending on your audience, you might try: "A funny nose made of a bright red ball, made famous by circus clowns"
    – user11628
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 22:21
  • "balled-shaped" would have probably been enough; I think I was overly pedantic with "spherical-cap-shaped". Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 22:33
  • I'll note that if you look up clown in the OALD, the definition starts with "an entertainer who wears funny clothes and a large red nose" (emphasis added).
    – choster
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:49

1 Answer 1

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You aren't finding this in a dictionary because every common adjective-noun pair can't be listed in one and only a few would be considered "compound words without hyphens."

Clown nose = a nose that a clown wears. This is too common of a way for adjectives and nouns to work to make it noteworthy to include in a dictionary.

A phrase like ice cream, which is not simply "cream that is ice", would be an example of a two-word adjective-noun pair that should be in a dictionary.

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  • I respectfully disagree. There are a few different false noses that might be worn for comedic effect, like Cyrano or Orson Wells' famous collection, but a "clown nose" is always a red ball.
    – user11628
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 22:00
  • If you know what a clown is, and you know what a nose is, you can put two and two together to figure out what a clown nose is. For a compound word like ice cream, that doesn't work. I guess it's all subjective but dictionaries can't list every combination of well known concepts.
    – LawrenceC
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 22:03

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