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bite one's nails

Exhibit signs of anxiety, impatience, or nervousness, as in We'll be biting our nails till the jury comes back. Biting one's fingernails is a time-honored sign of emotional tension. The Roman satirist Horace described it about 35 b.c.: “As he wrought his verse he would often ... gnaw his nails to the quick” (Satires, Book 1).

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Related Words for bite one's nails

annoy, depress, disturb, unsettle, perturb, bother, upset, irritate, try, plague, trouble, fret, distress, afflict, beleaguer, agonize, importune, beset, torment, brood