Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

a nail in the/someone's coffin

Definition of a nail in the/someone's coffin

  1. :  something that makes it more likely that someone or something will fail, be destroyed, etc. <Every mistake is one more nail in the coffin of his professional baseball career.> <The lawyers put another nail in her coffin today.>

Word by Word Definitions

  1. :  a horny sheath protecting the upper end of each finger and toe of humans and most other primates

    :  a structure (as a claw) that terminates a digit and corresponds to a nail

    :  a slender usually pointed and headed fastener designed to be pounded in

  1. :  to fasten with or as if with a nail

    :  to fix in steady attention

    :  catch, trap

  1. :  some person :  somebody

  1. :  a box or chest for burying a corpse — compare casket

  1. :  to enclose in or as if in a coffin

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up a nail in the/someone's coffin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sculptured or ornamented band

Get Word of the Day daily email!