• enPR: nāl, IPA: /neɪl/, [neɪ̯ɫ]

nail (plural nails)

  1. 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.
  2. The basal thickened portion of the anterior wings of certain hemiptera.
  3. The terminal horny plate on the beak of ducks, and other allied birds.
  4. The claw of a bird or other animal.
  5. 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 ↗:
      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.
  6. A round pedestal on which merchants once carried out their business, such as the four nails outside The Exchange, Bristol.
  7. An archaic English unit of length equivalent to frac 20 of an ell or frac 16 of a yard (frac 2 inches or 5.715 cm).
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  • French: seize (actually frac 16 of an ell or 2.9 inches)

nail (nails, present participle nailing; past and past participle nailed)

  1. (transitive) To fix (an object) to another object using a nail.
    Synonyms: pin, rivet, screw, Thesaurus:join
    He nailed the placard to the post.
  2. (intransitive) To drive a nail.
    Synonyms: hammer
    He used the ax head for nailing.
  3. (transitive) To stud or boss with nails, or as if with nails.
    • The rivets of your arms were nailed with gold.
  4. (slang) To catch.
    Synonyms: arrest, collar, nick, Thesaurus:capture
  5. (transitive, slang) To expose as a sham.
  6. (transitive, slang) To accomplish (a task) completely and successfully.
    Synonyms: ace, fullbring, fulfill
    I really nailed that test.
  7. (transitive, slang) To hit (a target) effectively with some weapon.
  8. (transitive, vulgar, slang) Of a male, to engage in sexual intercourse with.
    Synonyms: dick, pound, rail, screw, Thesaurus:copulate with
  9. To spike, as a cannon.
  10. (transitive) To nail down: to make certain, or confirm.
    Synonyms: clinch, fix, lock down, pin down
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