AskDefine | Define nail

Dictionary Definition



1 horny plate covering and protecting part of the dorsal surface of the digits
2 a thin pointed piece of metal that is hammered into materials as a fastener
3 a former unit of length for cloth equal to 1/16 of a yard


1 attach something somewhere by means of nails; "nail the board onto the wall"
2 take into custody; "the police nabbed the suspected criminals" [syn: collar, apprehend, arrest, pick up, nab, cop]
3 hit hard; "He smashed a 3-run homer" [syn: smash, boom, blast]
4 succeed in obtaining a position; "He nailed down a spot at Harvard" [syn: nail down, peg]
5 succeed at easily; "She sailed through her exams"; "You will pass with flying colors"; "She nailed her astrophysics course" [syn: breeze through, ace, pass with flying colors, sweep through, sail through]
6 locate exactly; "can you pinpoint the position of the enemy?"; "The chemists could not nail the identity of the chromosome" [syn: pinpoint]
7 complete a pass [syn: complete]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

næġel, from Proto-Germanic *nagalaz, from Proto-Indo-European base *(o)nogʰ ‘nail’. Cognate with Dutch nagel, German Nagel, Swedish nagel; and (from Indo-European) with Greek ὄνυξ, Latin unguis, Russian ноготь, Breton ivin.



  1. The thin, horny plate at the ends of fingers and toes on humans and some other animals.
  2. 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.
  3. One of the four round pedestals (the nails) in Bristol.
  4. An archaic English unit of length equivalent to 1/16th of a yard (2.25 inches).
on fingers and toes
spike-shaped metal fastener used for joining wood or similar materials
one of the four round pedestals (the nails) in Bristol

See also

Etymology 2

Old English næġlan


  1. To employ a nail as a fastener to join objects together.
  2. catch.
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 261a.
      we'll nail the sophist to it, if we can get him on that charge;
  3. expose as a sham.
  4. accomplish something completely and successfully.
    I really nailed that test.
  5. hit a target effectively with some weapon.
  6. engage in sexual intercourse.
employ a nail as a fastener
expose as a sham
accomplish something completely and successfully
hit a target effectively with some weapon

Extensive Definition

Nail may refer to:
nail in German: Nagel (Begriffsklärung)
nail in Spanish: Clavo
nail in French: Clou (homonymie)
nail in Dutch: Nagel
nail in Japanese: ネイル
nail in Korean: 네일
nail in Yiddish: fffffff

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Gibraltar, abduct, adamant, agonize, articulate, at once, attach, bag, batten, batten down, be correct, be precise, be right, biff, bolt, bone, brick, buckle, butt, button, cabbage, capture, carry off, catch, cement, chafe, clasp, claw, claws, cleat, clench, clinch, clip, clout, clutch, clutches, cold, collar, complete, conclude, concrete, diamond, digits, ding, distinguish, dovetail, enmesh, ensnare, entangle, entrap, fangs, fasten, fastener, fastening, finalize, fingernails, fingers, fix, flint, focus, foul, fret, get, glue, grab, granite, grapple, hands, hard as nails, hardy, harpoon, hasp, have, heart of oak, hinge, hit, hitch, hook, hooks, horse, identify, immediately, iron, jam, jaws, join, joint, kidnap, know, know again, land, lasso, latch, lion, lock, make out, mandibles, marble, maxillae, meathooks, mesh, miter, mitts, mortise, nab, nail down, nails, net, nick, nip, nippers, noose, oak, on the nail, on the spot, ox, palm, peg, pin, pincers, pinch, place, pounces, prehend, promptly, punch, rabbet, realize, recall knowledge of, recognize, reidentify, resolve, right away, rivet, rock, rope, sack, scarf, screw, secure, settle, sew, shanghai, shoot, skewer, slog, slosh, snag, snap, snare, snatch, sniggle, sock, spear, spike, spot, staple, steel, stew over, stick, stitch, stone, strike, suffer, tack, take, talon, talons, tangle, tangle up with, teeth, tell, throttle, toggle, tough, trap, unfeeling, unguals, ungulae, unsentimental, unsympathetic, vigorous, wedge, whack, without delay, worry, zipper
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