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nail-biter

or nail bit·er

[neyl-bahy-ter]
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noun
  1. a person who bites his or her nails, especially habitually.
  2. a situation marked by anxiety or tension.
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Origin of nail-biter

1970–75
Related formsnail-bit·ing, noun

nail-biting

[neyl-bahy-ting]
noun
  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.
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adjective
  1. Informal. causing nervousness: The nail-biting part of the canoe trip was through the stretches of white water.
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Origin of nail-biting

First recorded in 1890–95
Related formsnail-bit·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for nailbiter

nailbiter

noun
  1. a person who bites his or her nails
  2. a person who is anxious or tense
  3. something that causes anxiety or tension
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nail-biting

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