From Middle English nail, nayl, Old English næġl, from Proto-Germanic *naglaz (compare Saterland Frisian Nail (“nail”), West Frisian neil, Low German Nagel, Dutch nagel, German Nagel, Danish negl, Swedish nagel), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃nogʰ- (“nail”) (compare Irish ionga, Latin unguis, Albanian nyell (“ankle, hard part of a limb”), Lithuanian nagas, Russian нога́ (nogá, “foot, leg”), но́готь (nógotʹ, “nail”), Ancient Greek ὄνυξ (ónux), Persian ناخن (nâxon), Sanskrit नख (nakhá)).
nail (plural nails)
- The thin, horny plate at the ends of fingers and toes on humans and some other animals.
- When I'm nervous I bite my nails.
- The basal thickened portion of the anterior wings of certain hemiptera.
- The terminal horny plate on the beak of ducks, and other allied birds.
- The claw of a bird or other animal.
- A spike-shaped metal fastener used for joining wood or similar materials. The nail is generally driven through two or more layers of material by means of impacts from a hammer or other device. It is then held in place by friction.
- 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter II, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., […], OCLC 752825175, page 071:
- Orion hit a rabbit once; but though sore wounded it got to the bury, and, struggling in, the arrow caught the side of the hole and was drawn out. Indeed, a nail filed sharp is not of much avail as an arrowhead; you must have it barbed, and that was a little beyond our skill.
- A round pedestal on which merchants once carried out their business, such as the four nails outside The Exchange, Bristol.
- An archaic English unit of length equivalent to 1/20th of an ell or 1/16th of a yard (2.25 inches or 5.715 cm).
- eightpenny nail
- fourpenny nail
- hard as nails
- hit the nail on the head
- nail-biting, nailbiting (adjective)
- nail biting, nailbiting (noun)
- nail clippers
- nail file / nail-file / nailfile
- (transitive) To fix (an object) to another object using a nail.
- He nailed the placard to the post.
- (intransitive) To drive a nail.
- He used the ax head for nailing.
- (transitive) To stud or boss with nails, or as if with nails.
- The rivets of your arms were nailed with gold.
- (slang) To catch.
- (transitive, slang) To expose as a sham.
- (transitive, slang) To accomplish (a task) completely and successfully.
- I really nailed that test.
- (transitive, slang) To hit (a target) effectively with some weapon.
- 2011 October 1, Tom Fordyce, “Rugby World Cup 2011: England 16-12 Scotland”, in BBC Sport:
- Fly-half Ruaridh Jackson departed early with injury but Chris Paterson nailed a penalty from wide out left to give Scotland an early lead, and Jackson's replacement Dan Parks added three more points with a penalty which skimmed over the crossbar.
- (transitive, vulgar, slang) Of a male, to engage in sexual intercourse with.
- There’s a benefit gala at the Boston Pops tonight, and... well, I’m trying to nail the flautist. - Brian Griffin in the TV series Family Guy
- To spike, as a cannon.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Crabb to this entry?)
- (transitive) To nail down: to make certain, or confirm.
- Wikipedia disambiguation page on both meanings of nail
- Wikipedia disambiguation page on spike
- Nail in the Encyclopædia Britannica (11th edition, 1911)
- Alternative form of