verb (used with object)
- 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.).
- of present interest; under discussion.
- without delay; on the spot; at once: He was offered a job on the nail.
Origin of nail
Synonyms for nail
Examples from the Web for nailed
Contemporary Examples of nailed
I was more impressed when she nailed a few less flattering character traits.Can Self-Help Books Really Make a New You?
December 29, 2014
“During the test, we tried all the dances and I nailed none of them,” says Boseman with a chuckle.‘Get On Up’ Star Chadwick Boseman on Becoming James Brown—With A Little Help From Mick Jagger
August 4, 2014
Neither Cantor nor any of the great singers who nailed their impressions are the true stars of the original video.Viral Video of the Day: 29 ‘Perfect’ Impressions Were Faked!
July 10, 2014
Kate Mulgrew and Lorraine Toussaint tell the behind-the-scenes story about how they nailed the brilliant scene.Inside Orange Is the New Black’s Terrifying Showdown Between Red and Vee
June 25, 2014
But when they got to the airport, the FBI nailed him, the hostages were freed, and the movie was over.Almost Famous: A Father's Day Story
June 15, 2014
Historical Examples of nailed
He was nailed to a cross, and left suspended there till He died.An Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism
It was to him like the sound made by a nailed boot upon rock.The Slave Of The Lamp
Henry Seton Merriman
And on the wall hung a fish, nailed against it with four nails.The Chinese Fairy Book
It'll take him over an hour to do it, the boards will be nailed so cussedly tight.The Harbor
Nailed several anti-saloon and burlesque planks in his platform.Who Was Who: 5000 B. C. to Date
- to chew off the ends of one's fingernails
- to be worried or apprehensive
- in tough physical condition
- without sentiment or feelings
Word Origin for nail
Old English negel "metal pin," nægl "fingernail (handnægl), toenail," from Proto-Germanic *naglaz (cf. Old Norse nagl "fingernail," nagli "metal nail;" Old Saxon and Old High German nagel, Old Frisian neil, Middle Dutch naghel, Dutch nagel, German Nagel "fingernail, small metal spike"), from PIE root *(o)nogh "nail" (cf. Greek onyx "claw, fingernail;" Latin unguis "nail, claw;" Old Church Slavonic noga "foot," noguti "nail, claw;" Lithuanian naga "hoof," nagutis "fingernail;" Old Irish ingen, Old Welsh eguin "nail, claw").
The "fingernail" sense seems to be the original one. Nail polish attested from 1891. To bite one's nails as a sign of anxiety is attested from 1570s. Nail-biting is from 1805. Hard as nails is from 1828. To hit the nail on the head "say or do just the right thing" is first recorded 1520s. Phrase on the nail "on the spot, exactly" is from 1590s, of obscure origin; OED says it is not even certain it belongs to this sense of nail.
Old English næglian "to fasten with nails," from Proto-Germanic *ganaglijanan (cf. Old Saxon neglian, Old Norse negla, Old High German negilen, German nageln, Gothic ganagljan "to nail"), from the root of nail (n.). Related: Nailed; nailing. Meaning "to catch, seize" is first recorded 1766, probably from earlier sense "to keep fixed in a certain position" (1610s). Meaning "to succeed in hitting" is from 1886. To nail down "to fix down with nails" is from 1660s.
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