I had caught fever and and my nose was running. I want to know that what to call the stuff that comes out of a running nose, in English. In Hindi, we say "Naak".


It's mucus:

the slimy protective secretion of the mucous membranes, consisting mainly of mucin

You have mucous membranes in places besides your nose, though, so if you need to be specific you can refer to it as nasal mucus. You can also refer to it as nasal discharge, meaning a substance coming out of your nose.

There are a number of informal terms for mucus, most of which sound quite childish. Nonetheless, I'll list them:

  • Snot (uncountable). This is a term for nasal mucus in its normal liquid form.
  • A booger (countable, US usage). This is an American term for a piece of dried nasal mucus.
  • A bogey (countable, UK usage). This is the UK counterpart of booger.
  • A nose goblin (countable). This means the same thing as booger (although FumbleFingers says it's less common; see the comments for discussion, if you'd like).

Of these, I think snot is the most acceptable when used by an adult, but they're all rather informal. If you're talking to a doctor, nasal mucus or nasal discharge would be fine.

If you're just describing liquid coming out of your nose, but you don't want to use medical-sounding terms like nasal discharge, then you can say your nose is running or that you have a runny nose.

  • 1
    There are thousands and thousands of references in Google Books to boogers (UK bogies/bogeys), but less than a couple of dozen relevant instances of the collocation nose goblin. It's a colourful turn of phrase, familiar to a few and easily understood even on first hearing, but I wouldn't say it's exactly "the same as booger" (in the UK, it's virtually unknown). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '14 at 15:01
  • @Fumble - I"m in the U.S., and this is the first I've heard of it, too. I'm not surprised, though; perhaps it's derived from snow goblins. – J.R. Jan 26 '14 at 17:19
  • @J.R.: The exact same thought occurred to me! Mind you, I'd never heard of "snow goblins" until KitFox asked about them on ELU a few weeks back Not surprisingly, I suppose - a brief check of all eleven pre-2000 written instances of snow goblins failed to turn up a single one with KitFox's meaning. I think we can safely say nose and snow goblins are highly-localised regionalisms, not particularly relevant to those who just want to learn "standard, commonly-used" English. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '14 at 17:40
  • @Fumble - I agree with everything you say, except for the "not particularly relevant" part. Most English learners that I've met in person have been very glad when they've had a chance to learn a few regionalisms and colloquial slang, not wanting to confine their speech to standard "classroom" expressions. It won't hurt an English learner to put a fun expression like nose goblin into their pocket, ready to be pulled out like a hankie when the need arises. – J.R. Jan 26 '14 at 23:27
  • 1
    Because nose goblins are so important to me, and more than that, because it's a contentious matter of international import, I have done my best to update my answer taking your comments into account. Thank you, all! – snailcar Jan 27 '14 at 14:46

The medical term is mucus, but a common informal word is snot:

Doctor to patient: Keep taking this medication until the mucus clears out of your sinuses.

Parent to parent: You should have seen my baby last week; she had snot running all down her face.


My Welsh grandparents always referred to a runny nose as "candles."

  • That's odd. Because candles are made of wax. Although unrelated, wax isn't mucus, as wax can be found in the ears and not form the nose. – Varun Nair Mar 2 '16 at 11:37
  • It's metaphoric, the runniness from the nose can look like candle wax running down the side of a candle. It's a great analogy – Peter Mar 2 '16 at 12:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.