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Origin of the cliche... "Keep your nose to the grindstone."

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   Origin of the cliche...

In the milling of flour in old mills, the fineness of the grind is determined by the separation between the two grinding stones. If the stones are too far apart, the flour is coarse. Too close, and heat builds up and can burn the flour. The most diligent millers, who produced the finest flour, learned to close the gap down until they could just smell the flour browning, then ease the stones apart enough to prevent burning. This required constant attention and much effort to keep the stones aligned at this optimum distance.

Hence the origin of the expression, "Keep your nose to the grindstone," to mean for someone to pay close attention to what they are doing and to work hard.



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