Meaning of NAIL in English

I. ˈnāl, esp before pause or consonant ˈnāəl noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English nægl, nægel; akin to Old Saxon & Old High German nagal nail, fingernail, Old Norse nagl fingernail, Latin unguis nail of the finger or toe, claw, Greek onyx, Lithuanian nagas, Sanskrit nakha


a. : the horny plate of thickened and condensed epithelial stratum lucidum that grows out from a vascular matrix of cutis and sheathes the upper surface of the end of each finger and toe of man and most other primates and that is strictly homologous with the hoof or claw of other mammals from which it differs chiefly in shape and size

b. : a corresponding structure (as a claw or talon) terminating a digit

c. : a terminal horny process not associated with a digit: as

(1) : a plate at the end of the bill of ducks and related birds

(2) : a horny spur on the end of the tail of a few vertebrates — compare nail-tailed wallaby


a. : a slender and usually pointed and headed fastener designed for impact insertion — see treenail , wire nail ; compare brad , spike , tack

b. : dating nail

c. : a rod (as of metal) used to fix the parts of a broken bone in normal relation

medullary nail

3. : something resembling a nail (as in shape or color)


a. : clove III

b. : an English unit of length once used especially for cloth equal to 1/16 yard or 2 1/4 inches

- nail in one's coffin

- on the nail

- to the nail

II. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English nailen, from Old English næglian; akin to Old High German negilen to nail, Old Norse negla, Gothic ganagljan to nail to, attach; denominative from the root of English nail (I)


a. : to attach with a nail

nailed the proclamation to the church door

b. archaic : to pierce with a nail

c. : to put together with nails

nailed the timbers into a sturdy frame

d. obsolete : to stud with or as if with nails

e. : to close or make secure with nails — usually used with adverbs expressive of direction or condition

nailed the box up

nail down the windows

f. archaic : spike II 2a

g. : to fix in position with a nail

nailed the vines to the wall

h. : to block (fur garments) by dampening and attaching to a pattern board with nails

i. : to unite (parts of a broken bone) with a nail


a. archaic : to make fast as if with nails

b. : to secure or fasten to something

nailed to the tree by an Indian's arrow

c. : to be unalterably fixed to or associated with something (as a profession, a course of action)

the clerk nailed to his counter

d. : to fix in steady attention

nailing his eyes on the crack


a. : catch , trap ; especially : to detect and expose (as a lie or scandal) so as to stop currency or circulation

nailed the source of the story and forced a retraction

b. slang : to get hold of : snatch , steal

nail an apple

c. slang : check , arrest

d. of a bird dog : to point (as a covey) quickly, sharply, and accurately


a. slang : strike , hit

nailed him in the head with a rock

b. : to put out (a runner) in baseball

- nail one's colors to the mast

III. transitive verb

: to perform or complete perfectly or impressively

nailed a jump shot

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.