[ neyl-bahy-ting ]
/ ˈneɪlˌbaɪ tɪŋ /
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See synonyms for: nail-biting / nail-bitings on Thesaurus.com


the act or practice of biting one's fingernails, especially as the result of anxiety or nervousness.
Informal. nervousness: The announcement that the trade agreement had been signed ended a week of nail-biting on Wall Street.


Informal. causing nervousness: The nail-biting part of the canoe trip was through the stretches of white water.



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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of nail-biting

First recorded in 1890–95

OTHER WORDS FROM nail-biting

nail-biter, noun

Words nearby nail-biting

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for nail-biting

British Dictionary definitions for nail-biting



the act or habit of biting one's fingernails
  1. anxiety or tension
  2. (as modifier)nail-biting suspense
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