оставлять с носом

 {literally} leave (smb.) with his gift (often mixed up with 'nose').
To trick smb. Make a fool of smb.
Also  {passive} оставаться с носом — to be tricked by smb.


In Russian the word "tribute" (or gift) may sound like 'нос' (nose) which is derived from the verb 'подносить' — with one of the meanings "to bring and make a present", or even "bribe". Hence, we have a 'nose' like sounding, which have almost nothing with nose. The actual meaning of the noun 'нос' here is 'smt. that smb. has brought up as a gift'.
Tributes/gifts were very common in the earlier Russia — almost none of the affairs in the Moscow 'Prikaz' (Department) could be put forward to or completed without a gift to the official. The gifts were considered as a way to establish friendly relations with the official who was in power to resolve an action or complaint.
The ceremony of presenting the gift was an old tradition for the common people of Russia. The most tricky part was to guess right the wishes of the official so that an inappropriate present would not lose the officials' dignity. The worst that could happen was rejection of the gifts. In this case the suppliant was left with what he brought — his gift (that is "с носом"). Such gift rejection by an official meant general rejection and the whole affair failure for the suppliant.
In this case the suppliant was left "with nothing" (hence, there is a saying "остаться с носом", "уйти ни с чем", or "уйти не солоно хлебавши" ~ "come away none the wiser").
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