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
“I just got my nails done,” gushes Michael C. Hall, extending his manicured, silver digits towards me.Michael C. Hall on Going Drag for ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ and Exorcising ‘Dexter’ | Marlow Stern | December 4, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
In this way, certain cognitive mechanisms can act like a hammer too eager for nails.Why Are Millennials Unfriending Organized Religion? | Vlad Chituc | November 9, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
There is a mini-salon station that applies sparkles onto willing attendees nails.Explosion of Cute: Inside the Superfan Mania of Hello Kitty Con 2014 | Sarah Bay Williams | November 2, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
I painted my nails in the unisex bathroom of a Mexican tour bus.‘Marry Me’ Proves Ken Marino Is More Than Just an Asshole | Kevin Fallon | October 14, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Richards nails that friendship in language so simple and true that any child could understand it.Exile on Sesame Street: Keith Richards Writes a Kids’ Book | Malcolm Jones | September 12, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Wire Nails, Staples, &c., are made at Nettlefold's by machinery much in advance of what can ba seen elsewhere.Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham | Thomas T. Harman and Walter Showell
He hath decked it with silver and gold: he hath put it together with nails and hammers, that it may not fall asunder.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version | Various
The treasure consisted in this case of a quantity of bent and rusty nails of all sizes, and a few screws and nuts.The Box-Car Children | Gertrude Chandler Warner
Henry's conscience was set at rest as he began with great delight to hammer out his bent nails.The Box-Car Children | Gertrude Chandler Warner
Mariequita sat near by, dangling her legs, watching him work, and handing him nails from the tool-box.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories | Kate Chopin
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.