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
After missing that mark with the empty-calorie fluff of Salem, WGN is nailing it with Manhattan.WGN’s ‘Manhattan’ Is Summer’s Best New Show. But Will Anyone Watch? | Kevin Fallon | July 27, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Once tasked with nailing triple Lutzes and Salchows, Michelle Kwan may soon be Rhode Island's first lady.Figure Skater Michelle Kwan Chases Gold in Rhode Island’s Gubernatorial Race | Nicholas McCarvel | April 17, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
He added: “I blame myself for not nailing down in absolute lawyerly terms what the ground rules were.”At the Obama White House: Transparency Transhmarency | Lloyd Grove | August 23, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
Why is the tennis world so keen on nailing this kid as a waste or a savior before he really does anything?Tennis Bad Boy Bernard Tomic: The Next Roger Federer? | Sujay Kumar | January 19, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
He will undoubtedly land some jabs, but he is not going to be, in basketball terms, nailing three-pointers from midcourt.
We'll keep parallel with these gentlemen, and if they get out of touch with the rest we'll make a try at nailing them.Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
She darted a quick look at me, and turned back to the trellis, where she was nailing on strips.The Idyl of Twin Fires | Walter Prichard Eaton
All I want is the credit for nailing you all by my lonesome.From Place to Place | Irvin S. Cobb
She then secured the house by nailing down the windows, &c., and taking the path across the fields, once more returned to Asselby.Yorkshire Oddities, Incidents and Strange Events | S. Baring-Gould
They may be secured either by nailing or screwing, or by glued angle blocks.
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.