WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
nail /neɪl/USA pronunciation   n. [countable]
  1. a thin, rod-shaped piece of metal, usually having a pointed tip and a flattened head, made to be hammered into wood or other material as a fastener or support.
  2. a thin, hard, horny area on the upper side of the end of a finger or toe.

v. 
  1. to fasten with a nail or nails: [+ object]to nail a picture to the wall.[+ up + object]to nail up the demands on the wall.[+ object + up]to nail the demands up.
  2. to enclose or shut by nailing: [+ object]He nailed the door closed.[+ object + up]He nailed the door up.[+ up + object]They nailed up the door.
  3. [+ object][Informal.]
    • to catch;
      seize:The police nailed him as he was trying to escape.
    • to hit successfully:The batter nailed the ball for a home run.
  4. nail down, to make final* settle once and for all: [+ down + object]to nail down an agreement.[+ object + down]Nail it down before you sign anything.
Idioms
  1. Idiomshit the nail on the head, to say or do exactly the right thing;
    to be exactly right.


WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
nail  (nāl),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. 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.
  2. a thin, horny plate, consisting of modified epidermis, growing on the upper side of the end of a finger or toe.
  3. a former measure of length for cloth, equal to 2¼ in. (6.4 cm).
  4. Idiomshit 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.
  5. Idiomson the nail, [Informal.]
    • of present interest;
      under discussion.
    • without delay;
      on the spot;
      at once:He was offered a job on the nail.
  6. Idiomsnail in someone's or 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.

v.t. 
  1. to fasten with a nail or nails: to nail the cover on a box.
  2. to enclose or confine (something) by nailing (often fol. by up): to nail up oranges in a crate.
  3. to make fast or keep firmly in one place or position: Surprise nailed him to the spot.
  4. to accomplish perfectly:the only gymnast to nail the dismount.
  5. Informal.
    • 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.).
  6. Slang. to hit (a person): He nailed him on the chin with an uppercut in the first round.
  7. to focus intently on an object or subject: She kept her eyes nailed on the suspicious customer.
  8. Obs. to stud with or as if with nails.
  9. nail down, to make final;
    settle once and for all: Signing the contract will nail down our agreement.
nailless, adj. 
naillike′, adj. 
  • Gmc * nagl-janan; compare Gothic ganagljan
  • * Honogwh-; (verb, verbal) Middle English nail(l)(e), nayl(l)e(n), Old English næglian, cognate with Old Saxon neglian, Old High German negilen, Old Norse negla
  • Italo-Celtic * Hongwhi-; Greek ónyx, stem onych-, Armenian ełungn
  • Celtic * ṇgwhīnā, Latin unguis
  • North European Indo-European * Honogwh-; further akin to Old Irish ingen, Welsh ewin, Breton ivin
  • Gmc *naglaz; akin as derivative to Lithuanian nãgas, nagà hoof, Old Prussian nage foot, Old Church Slavonic noga leg, foot (Serbo-Croatian nòga, Czech noha, Russian nogá; probably origin, originally jocular reference to the foot as a hoof ), Old Church Slavonic nogùtĭ, Tocharian A maku, B mekwa fingernail, claw, all
  • (noun, nominal) Middle English nail(l), nayl(l), Old English nægl, cognate with Old Frisian neil, Old Saxon, Old High German nagal, Dutch nagel, German Nagel, Old Norse nagl fingernail, all bef. 900
    • 8.See corresponding entry in Unabridged fix, secure, pin, fasten.

nail, +n. 
  • Idiomsnail in someone's or 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.

  • v.t. 
    1. to accomplish perfectly:the only gymnast to nail the dismount.


    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    nail /neɪl/ n
    1. a fastening device usually made from round or oval wire, having a point at one end and a head at the other
    2. anything resembling such a fastening device, esp in function or shape
    3. the horny plate covering part of the dorsal surface of the fingers or toes
      Related adjective(s): ungual, ungular
    4. the claw of a mammal, bird, or reptile
    5. a unit of length, formerly used for measuring cloth, equal to two and a quarter inches
    6. hit the nail on the headto do or say something correct or telling
    7. on the nail(of payments) at once (esp in the phrase pay on the nail)
    vb (transitive)
    1. to attach with or as if with nails
    2. informal to arrest or seize
    3. informal to hit or bring down, as with a shot
    4. informal to expose or detect (a lie or liar)
    5. to fix or focus (one's eyes, attention, etc) on an object
    6. to stud with nails
    Etymology: Old English nǣgl; related to Old High German nagal nail, Latin unguis fingernail, claw, Greek onux

    ˈnailer n



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