[ neyl-bahy-ting ]
See synonyms for: nail-bitingnail-bitings on

  1. the act or practice of biting one's fingernails, especially as the result of anxiety or nervousness.

  2. Informal. nervousness: The announcement that the trade agreement had been signed ended a week of nail-biting on Wall Street.

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

Origin of nail-biting

First recorded in 1890–95

Other words from nail-biting

  • nail-biter, noun

Words Nearby nail-biting Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use nail-biting in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nail-biting


  1. the act or habit of biting one's fingernails

    • anxiety or tension

    • (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