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What Is an Aquiline Nose?

By J. Finnegan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An aquiline nose has a high protruding bridge with a slight to pronounced downward curve when viewed in profile. It's also known as a Roman nose, hooked nose, or a beak or eagle nose because of its resemblance to the curved beak of an eagle. The term aquiline only refers to the shape of the nose and not the size, which is highly variable. The exact definition of an aquiline nose can be somewhat skewed as some define an it as having a downward curve of any degree, while others define a slight to moderate curve as being aquiline and a markedly curved nose as a hawk nose. The terms aquiline and Roman nose are often used synonymously, but can sometimes refer to slightly different shapes with an aquiline nose having a bump where the nasal bone meets the nasal septum and a straight tip, and a Roman nose having a slightly sloped bridge with a downward curved tip.

The bridge of the nose is the hard upper part that sits between and extends beyond the eyes. Two bones called the nasal bones join together to form the nose's bridge. The size and shape of the nasal bridge varies greatly between individuals. The nasal bones join to the nasal septum, which is a flexible cartilaginous wall that separates the two sides of the nasal airways. The bony bridge of an aquiline nose is tall, which, when viewed from the side, gives it the appearance of a downward slope at the point where it meets the nasal septum.

The human nose is a prominent facial feature. As such, the overall size and shape of the nose can have a profound effect on a person's self-esteem. In general, men have larger noses than women. What is considered an attractive nose shape differs from culture to culture and across different time periods, but generally an aquiline nose is thought to be more attractive on men than on women.

The Greek nose has a straight bridge from base to tip and is found on classical Greek sculptures, but may not be reflective of a common physical attribute among classical Greeks. Instead, the Greek nose found in classical art may be representative of the aesthetic ideal of the time period. Even in modern times, the Greek nose is considered by many to be a desirable feature. Classical Roman art depicted bodily imperfections that classical Greek art precluded. It's not uncommon to see a very long, bent, or aquiline nose on a classical Roman sculpture or other artwork.

What Is a Roman Nose?

A Roman nose is also referred to as an aquiline nose or a hook nose. For the curious, aquiline refers to the nose’s likeness to the beak of an eagle, both regal and prominent. The word comes from the Latin, aquilinus, meaning eagle-like. Thus, the Roman nose has a prominent profile, including a downward curving nose bridge with a beaked or curved tip.

While the three terms are mainly synonymous, Roman, hook, and aquiline, there are subtle differences within even those descriptions. Some describe the hook nose as being large and curved downward toward the beak end. The aquiline has notes of slight to moderate downward curves and a bump where the nasal septum meets the bone and has no mention of size. If the curve is more pronounced, it may be further classified as a hawk nose if it is petite. Less pronounced curvature and a downturned tip suggest a more Roman nose than the other two.

What Is Roman Nose vs Greek Nose?

The Roman nose is specifically one with a very slightly sloped nose bridge and a downward curved tip. How does that compare to the Greek nose?

Alternately, the Greek nose has a straight nose bridge from base to tip, and there is no downward curve or upturned tip. It is often described as having a straight bridge to end and a remarkable form that is perfectly angled. As far as angles for the full nose go, you can expect the Greek nose to have measurements that range from medium to large.

It is said that the perfect angle of the nose falls between 105 and 110 degrees. The Greek nose is close to the ideal angle, measuring between a 115 and a 130-degree angle.

What Are Misconceptions in Noses?

The shape of noses has led to many different misconceptions over the years. Often, racial disparities are generalized due to the form of a person’s nose. While certain people of particular races may share prominent facial features, it is not unheard of for others to share the same or similar features outside of that category. Using physical features as markers to identify people as either good or bad is never an acceptable practice.

What Other Kinds of Noses Are There?

Remember, just because people have a certain kind of nose doesn’t mean they are good or bad or in between. To make that kind of personal decision, you should look to individual actions. Many different people share similar types of noses. Types of noses fall into about 10 main categories, including Greek and Roman.

Celestial

The most requested rhinoplasty reshape, the celestial nose shape, is small straight and has an upturned tip that is slightly bulbous. This type of nose is what people refer to when they speak of a cute button nose.

Fleshy

This shape is the most common type of nose amongst all the people in the world. It is rounded in nature and is a medium to large focal point of the face.

Bumpy

Bumpy noses are precisely what they sound like. In the profile of someone with a bumpy nose, there are protrusions in the bridge or the tip of the nose.

Snub

A snub nose is petite and pointy. It has a slightly upward turned profile wherein the nostrils can be seen from forward-facing.

Nubian

A Nubian nose has a long smooth bridge with a broad base where the nostrils are located.

East Asian

East Asian noses lack nasion depressions, which is the area where bridges meet, both the brow and the nose. This nose is thin, smooth, and flat, with a blunt tip.

Bulbous

The bulbous nose protrudes outward and is both prominent and extra fleshy in appearance. In some cases, bulbous noses require medical attention to relieve redness or deformation.

What Are Some Representations of Noses?

Noses are a central focus in many different mediums of art. They range from sculptures in ancient Rome to ancient Egypt, Italian and African carvings, American oil on canvas, vintage photographs featured in the Met, and everything in between.

You can also find noses, specifically of the aquiline variety, in music. English rock band, The Smiths, include a lyric on the Roman nose in their 1986 song, Bigmouth Strikes Again. The band, White Fence, have the song, Hey! Roman Nose, on their 2012 album Family Perfume Volume One.

In film and television, noses are close to having their own starring roles. In fact, in the 1986 -1989 Nickelodeon show Double Dare, a nose was featured as a prominent aspect of the show. Contestants were tasked with searching inside a giant slime-filled nose to find requested items to win a prize.

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Discussion Comments
By anon345090 — On Aug 15, 2013

I also have an aquiline nose. At first, everyone called it the "surname nose." My father had it, and my uncles had it on my dad's side, but in doing my genealogy research and after seeing a picture that was sent to me of my great-grandfather, I found it was the wrong side. The nose is my dad's maternal not paternal side. I am so proud of it. It was the Italian in my dad's side. I'm a female not even my brothers or any cousins have it.

By anon318629 — On Feb 08, 2013

I am proud of my aquiline nose because I am told my grandfather had the same nose and it is a reminder of my Basque ancestry.

By seag47 — On Jan 05, 2013

I am so proud of actresses and famous singers who have aquiline noses and choose to keep them. Many people give into the temptation to look like everyone else once they can afford plastic surgery, but a select few choose to hold onto their unique features, and I think this makes them respectable.

Singers risk changing the sound of their voice if they change their noses, too. So, if someone has a golden voice, that would be something to consider before going under the knife.

By Kristee — On Jan 05, 2013

@feasting – It sounds like you got lucky with your nose. I inherited the family's large aquiline nose, and I was teased so much for it during childhood that I wanted a nose job badly.

I eventually grew into my nose, so it doesn't stand out quite as much now as it did when I had spindly arms and legs and a skinny torso. It really doesn't bother me anymore, but it was all I could think about as a teenager.

My parents wouldn't let me have a nose job, since my body wasn't finished growing yet, and any doctor probably would have refused to do this on a teenager, anyway. They said I would change my mind someday, and they were right.

By StarJo — On Jan 04, 2013

I think that an average sized aquiline nose looks good on a man. It's a strong facial feature that is unique, and in the right proportion, it can be handsome.

By feasting — On Jan 04, 2013

My dad and sister both have strong aquiline noses. My mother does have the bump at the bridge, but hers doesn't curve downward and is not large.

I am somewhere in the middle. My nose is larger than my mother's but smaller than my sister's and my dad's noses. It has a large bump and a slight curve.

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