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
Related formsnail·less, adjectivenail·like, adjectivere·nail, verb (used with object)
British Dictionary definitions for on the nail
- to chew off the ends of one's fingernails
- to be worried or apprehensive
- in tough physical condition
- without sentiment or feelings
Derived Formsnailer, nounnail-less, adjective
Word Origin for nail
Medicine definitions for on the nail
Idioms and Phrases with on the nail (1 of 2)
on the nail
Immediately, without delay, as in He paid us back on the nail. [c. 1600]
Under discussion or consideration, as in The subject of the budget deficit has been on the nail for some time. [Late 1800s] The precise allusion in these expressions has been lost. Neither has any connection to hit the nail on the head (see under hit the bull's-eye).
Idioms and Phrases with on the nail (2 of 2)
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