‘Nosebleed Seats’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on October 13, 2022

Have you ever heard the expression 'nosebleed seats' and wondered what it meant? This article will explore what this idiom means, its origin, and how you can use it in a sentence.

In brief, 'nosebleed seats' are seats in the part of a stadium or arena that are high up and far away from the stage, field, or central area of activity.

What Does ‘Nosebleed Seats’ Mean?

‘Nosebleed seats’ is an idiom that is used in American and Canadian English to refer to seats in a stadium or area that are the highest and farthest from the central activity– whether it’s a sports game, concert, or another event.

If you are going to a football game and someone says that you are sitting in the ‘nosebleed section’ or ‘nosebleed seats,’ it means that the seats are high up and likely far away from the action on the field.

Where Does the Idiom ‘Nosebleed Seats’ Come From?

As you can see, the meaning of ‘nosebleed seats’ is simple enough. However, you’re probably wondering where the idiom comes from. After all, what does your nose bleeding have to do with having seats that are far away from a stage or playing field?

The reference here is that, at high altitudes, it’s common for mountain climbers to suffer from nosebleeds. The reason that our noses are prone to bleeding at high altitudes is that atmospheric pressure decreases the higher you go, meaning that the pressure within the blood vessels becomes higher than the pressure outside. This leads to rupturing of the blood vessels.

As early as 1953, the phrase was used in print to describe the last row in the end zone at what is now John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia (previously Municipal Stadium) during an Army-Navy football game.

'Nosebleed seats' commonly refers to the cheapest seats in a stadium. The seats that are farthest away from the action have long been the least expensive. In fact, in the days of the Colosseum, the courtside seats and luxury boxes were reserved for the upper classes, while the least desirable seats were where the lower-class citizens sat.

Examples of ‘Nosebleed Seats’ In a Sentence

Now that we have a better understanding of the meaning of ‘nosebleed seats’ and where it comes from as an idiom let’s take a look at how you can use this in a sentence.

  • With those nosebleed seats, you might want to bring some binoculars.
  • The best seats cost more than $300, but the nosebleed seats are only $30.
  • I’d rather watch the game on TV than sit in the nosebleed seats.
  • Despite the fact that she has nosebleed seats, she's thrilled that she gets to go to the play.
  • The nosebleed seats in that stadium are still fairly close to the stage, so I’m not worried about buying the cheapest tickets.
  • The people in the nosebleed seats seemed to be enjoying the show more than those in the front row VIP seats.
  • There was so much excitement around the game that even the nosebleed seats sold out on the first day of ticket sales.

Final Thoughts on 'Nosebleed Seats'

'Nosebleed seats' is a light-hearted and jocular way to describe the seats that are high up and far away from the action. They tend to be cheaper than seats that are closer to the stage or playing field because it's harder to see what's going on. That being said, these days, nosebleed seats aren't nearly as bad as they used to be because there are usually huge screens broadcasting the main activity so everyone in the stadium or arena can get a good view.

Are you looking for more explanations of common idioms like 'who dares wins' and 'canary in a coal mine'? Check out our library of resources for more fun articles exploring everything you need to know about different English idioms and phrases.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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