[ neyl ]
/ neɪl /
a slender, typically rod-shaped rigid piece of metal, usually in any of numerous standard lengths from a fraction of an inch to several inches and having one end pointed and the other enlarged and flattened, for hammering into or through wood, other building materials, etc., as used in building, in fastening, or in holding separate pieces together.
a thin, horny plate, consisting of modified epidermis, growing on the upper side of the end of a finger or toe.
a former measure of length for cloth, equal to 2¼ inches (6.4 cm).
verb (used with object)
to fasten with a nail or nails: to nail the cover on a box.
to enclose or confine (something) by nailing (often followed by up): to nail up oranges in a crate.
to make fast or keep firmly in one place or position: Surprise nailed him to the spot.
to accomplish perfectly: the only gymnast to nail the dismount.
- to secure by prompt action; catch or seize: The police nailed him with the goods.
- to catch (a person) in some difficulty, lie, etc.
- to detect and expose (a lie, scandal, etc.).
Slang. to hit (a person): He nailed him on the chin with an uppercut in the first round.
to focus intently on an object or subject: She kept her eyes nailed on the suspicious customer.
Obsolete. to stud with or as if with nails.
nail down, to make final; settle once and for all: Signing the contract will nail down our agreement.
💅 - nail polish - What does the nail polish emoji mean?Read more in this article about some frequently asked questions and fun facts related to our definitions.
hit the nail on the head, to say or do exactly the right thing; be accurate or correct: Your analysis really hit the nail on the head.
nail in someone's/something's coffin, something that hastens the demise or failure of a person or thing: Every moment's delay is another nail in his coffin.
- of present interest; under discussion.
- without delay; on the spot; at once: He was offered a job on the nail.
on the nail, Informal.
Origin of nail
before 900; (noun) Middle English nail(l), nayl(l), Old English nægl, cognate with Old Frisian neil, Old Saxon, Old High German nagal, Dutch nagel, German Nagel, Old Norse nagl fingernail, all < Germanic *naglaz; akin as derivative to Lithuanian nãgas, nagà hoof, OPruss nage foot, OCS noga leg, foot (Serbo-Croatian nòga, Czech noha, Russian nogá; probably orig. jocular reference to the foot as a hoof), OCS nogŭtĭ, Tocharian A maku, B mekwa fingernail, claw, all < North European Indo-European *Honogwh-; further akin to Old Irish ingen, Welsh ewin, Breton ivin < Celtic *ṇgwhīnā, Latin unguis < Italo-Celtic *Hongwhi-; Greek ónyx, stem onych-, Armenian ełungn < *Honogwh-; (v.) Middle English nail(l)(e), nayl(l)e(n), Old English næglian, cognate with Old Saxon neglian, Old High German negilen, Old Norse negla < Germanic *nagl-janan; compare Gothic ganagljan
Related formsnail·less, adjectivenail·like, adjectivere·nail, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for hit the nail on the head
/ (neɪl) /
a fastening device usually made from round or oval wire, having a point at one end and a head at the other
anything resembling such a fastening device, esp in function or shape
the horny plate covering part of the dorsal surface of the fingers or toesSee fingernail, toenail Related adjectives: ungual, ungular
the claw of a mammal, bird, or reptile
slang a hypodermic needle, used for injecting drugs
a unit of length, formerly used for measuring cloth, equal to two and a quarter inches
a nail in one's coffin an experience or event that tends to shorten life or hasten the end of something
bite one's nails
- to chew off the ends of one's fingernails
- to be worried or apprehensive
hard as nails
- in tough physical condition
- without sentiment or feelings
hit the nail on the head to do or say something correct or telling
on the nail (of payments) at once (esp in the phrase pay on the nail)
to attach with or as if with nails
informal to arrest or seize
informal to hit or bring down, as with a shotI nailed the sniper
informal to expose or detect (a lie or liar)
to fix or focus (one's eyes, attention, etc) on an object
to stud with nails
Derived Formsnailer, nounnail-less, adjective
Word Origin for nail
Old English nǣgl; related to Old High German nagal nail, Latin unguis fingernail, claw, Greek onux
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Medicine definitions for hit the nail on the head
[ nāl ]
A fingernail or toenail.
A slender rod used in operations to fasten together the divided extremities of a broken bone.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Idioms and Phrases with hit the nail on the head (1 of 2)
hit the nail on the head
see hit the bull's-eye.
Idioms and Phrases with hit the nail on the head (2 of 2)
In addition to the idioms beginning with nail
- nail down
- nail in one's coffin
- bite one's nails
- fight tooth and nail
- hard as nails
- hit the bull's-eye (nail on the head)
- on the nail
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.