or nail bit·er

[ neyl-bahy-ter ]
/ ˈneɪlˌbaɪ tər /


a person who bites his or her nails, especially habitually.
a situation marked by anxiety or tension.

Nearby words

  1. nail skin,
  2. nail technician,
  3. nail up,
  4. nail varnish,
  5. nail violin,
  6. nail-biting,
  7. nail-patella syndrome,
  8. nail-sick,
  9. nailbiter,
  10. nailbrush

Origin of nail-biter


Related formsnail-bit·ing, noun


[ neyl-bahy-ting ]
/ ˈneɪlˌbaɪ tɪŋ /


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.

Origin of nail-biting

First recorded in 1890–95

Related formsnail-bit·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for nailbiter


/ (ˈneɪlˌbaɪtə) /


a person who bites his or her nails
a person who is anxious or tense
something that causes anxiety or tension



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