a slender, typically rod-shaped rigid piece of metal, usually in any of numerous standard lengths from a fraction of an inch to several inches and having one end pointed and the other enlarged and flattened, for hammering into or through wood, other building materials, etc., as used in building, in fastening, or in holding separate pieces together.
a thin, horny plate, consisting of modified epidermis, growing on the upper side of the end of a finger or toe.
a former measure of length for cloth, equal to 2.25 inches (5.7 centimeters).
to fasten with a nail or nails: to nail the cover on a box.
to enclose or confine (something) by nailing (often followed by up): to nail up oranges in a crate.
to make fast or keep firmly in one place or position: Surprise nailed him to the spot.
to accomplish perfectly: the only gymnast to nail the dismount.
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.).
Slang. to hit (a person): He nailed him on the chin with an uppercut in the first round.
to focus intently on an object or subject: She kept her eyes nailed on the suspicious customer.
Obsolete. to stud with or as if with nails.
nail down, to make final; settle once and for all: Signing the contract will nail down our agreement.
Idioms about nail
hit the nail on the head, to say or do exactly the right thing; be accurate or correct: Your analysis really hit the nail on the head.
nail in someone's / something's coffin, something that hastens the demise or failure of a person or thing: Every moment's delay is another nail in his coffin.
on the nail, Informal.
of present interest; under discussion.
without delay; on the spot; at once: He was offered a job on the nail.
- nailless, adjective
- naillike, adjective
- re·nail, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use nail in a sentence
She did what I asked but I still had to fight tooth and nail to get her “on schedule.”Distance learning was a disaster. So I decided to teach my daughter myself. | Tracey Lewis-Giggetts | November 19, 2020 | Washington Post
For many PPC marketers, the very suggestion of using broad match keywords is like nails on a chalkboard.Google Ads wants advertisers to give broad match another shot | Ginny Marvin | November 16, 2020 | Search Engine Land
Her patient, intent gaze spied that Thismia, a plant with a flower no bigger than a pinkie nail.In praise of serendipity — and scientific obsession | Nancy Shute | November 6, 2020 | Science News
If you’re running out of fridge magnet space, you can use the clip’s hanging hole to attach it to hooks, thumbtacks, nails, etc.
This year, the short becomes the latest bit of content to get shoveled up in the great streaming wars of 2020, as media companies fight tooth and nail for back catalogues.‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ is now an Apple TV+ exclusive | Brian Heater | October 22, 2020 | TechCrunch
But on Tuesday, we saw another nail hammered into the already pretty tightly nailed down coffin of the two-state solution.In the Middle East, the Two-State Solution Is Dead | Dean Obeidallah | January 2, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
I was more impressed when she nailed a few less flattering character traits.
Somehow Turner nailed that one second of surpassing natural force.
“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 | Marlow Stern | August 4, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
For example, the bookmobile was a WPA program—old bread and milk trucks full of nailed-up shelves.James Lee Burke Talks About His Fiction, History, and the American Dream | David Masciotra | July 20, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Where the stone wall had to be left open for bar-ways, to drive through, he went to work and nailed up the bars.Dorothy at Skyrie | Evelyn Raymond
The bird-stuffer in Alderney had some wings of Nightjars nailed up behind his door which had been shot in that Island by himself.Birds of Guernsey (1879) | Cecil Smith
"That's a cross dog of yours," cried the woman, kicking at Pincher, with her heavy nailed boots.The World Before Them | Susanna Moodie
"I'm rather glad the chair is nailed to the floor," he remarked, as he settled himself more comfortably.Three More John Silence Stories | Algernon Blackwood
Now, all Jess could see were two thick chunks of wood nailed securely to the closed door opposite the open one.The Box-Car Children | Gertrude Chandler Warner
British Dictionary definitions for nail
a fastening device usually made from round or oval wire, having a point at one end and a head at the other
anything resembling such a fastening device, esp in function or shape
the claw of a mammal, bird, or reptile
slang a hypodermic needle, used for injecting drugs
a unit of length, formerly used for measuring cloth, equal to two and a quarter inches
a nail in one's coffin an experience or event that tends to shorten life or hasten the end of something
bite one's nails
to chew off the ends of one's fingernails
to be worried or apprehensive
hard as nails
in tough physical condition
without sentiment or feelings
hit the nail on the head to do or say something correct or telling
on the nail (of payments) at once (esp in the phrase pay on the nail)
to attach with or as if with nails
informal to arrest or seize
informal to hit or bring down, as with a shot: I nailed the sniper
informal to expose or detect (a lie or liar)
to fix or focus (one's eyes, attention, etc) on an object
to stud with nails
- nailer, noun
- nail-less, adjective
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
Other Idioms and Phrases with nail
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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.