I came across this sentence:

He wrinkled his nose in disgust at the smell.

I wonder why not:

He wrinkled his nose in disgust of the smell.

Does it make any difference why we don't use of?

  • Have you ever seen of used this way? Why do you think that is? Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 21:54
  • @FeliniusRex I don't seem to have seen it,but I'm learning English(not my native language) ,so I ask why this is so here.Maybe there is a rule or you need to remember it.according to my logic, the value here is "because of this" and I would put of
    – Omegon
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 21:59
  • In this particular sentence, at means because of and of simply doesn't mean that... Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 22:04
  • @AndrewTobilko okey,thanks
    – Omegon
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 22:10
  • 1
    Ok. At here is common for body parts; you wrinkle your nose at, you stare at, you raise your eyebrows at, you smile at and so on. The idea is that you are responding to something outside yourself -- in this case, he is responding to a smell. Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


I am not sure there is an answer to why we use at instead of of that is substantially better than "Because that is the way English is." I am sure your native language also has cases where you use one preposition and not another.

But we often use at to mean "caused by" in the case of reactions, or to mean "on the occasion of".

Stephen smiled at the thought

He frowned at the interruption

Richard's nose wrinkled at the stink

  • This is the whole of the answer. Disgust happens to take "at" or "with", but not "of". There is no rule or explanation: it is is part of the dictionary entry of the word.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 0:00

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