/ neɪl; NAmE / noun , verb
thin hard layer covering the outer tip of the fingers or toes :
Stop biting your nails!
—picture at hand
—see also fingernail , toenail
a small thin pointed piece of metal with a flat head, used for hanging things on a wall or for joining pieces of wood together :
She hammered the nail in.
—compare screw (1), tack (3)
- a nail in sb's / sth's coffin
- on the nail
—more at fight verb , hard adjective , hit verb , tough adjective
■ verb [ vn ]
to fasten sth to sth with a nail or nails :
I nailed the sign to a tree.
( informal ) to catch sb and prove they are guilty of a crime or of doing sth bad :
The police haven't been able to nail the killer.
( informal ) to prove that sth is not true :
We must nail this lie.
( NAmE , informal ) to achieve sth or do sth right, especially in sport :
He nailed a victory in the semi-finals.
- nail your colours to the mast
- nail sth down
- nail sb down (to sth)
- nail sth up
Old English nægel (noun), næglan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch nagel and German Nagel , from an Indo-European root shared by Latin unguis and Greek onux .