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noun \ˈnāl\

Simple Definition of nail

  • : a long, thin piece of metal that is sharp at one end and flat at the other end and that is used chiefly to attach things to wood

  • : the hard covering at the end of a finger or toe : a fingernail or toenail

Full Definition of nail

  1. 1 a :  a horny sheath protecting the upper end of each finger and toe of humans and most other primates b :  a structure (as a claw) that terminates a digit and corresponds to a nail

  2. 2 :  a slender usually pointed and headed fastener designed to be pounded in

Examples of nail

  1. a hammer and some nails

  2. I get my nails done at the beauty salon every other week.

  3. a pair of nail clippers

Origin of nail

Middle English, from Old English nægl; akin to Old High German nagal nail, fingernail, Latin unguis fingernail, toenail, claw, Greek onyx

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Hardware Terms




Simple Definition of nail

  • : to attach (something) with a nail

  • : to catch (someone) doing something illegal or wrong

  • : to arrest or punish (someone) for doing something that is illegal or wrong

Full Definition of nail

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to fasten with or as if with a nail

  3. 2 :  to fix in steady attention <nailed his eye on the crack>

  4. 3 a :  catch, trap b :  to expose usually so as to discredit c :  to arrest or punish for an offense

  5. 4 a :  strike, hit b :  to put out (a runner) in baseball

  6. 5 :  to perform or complete perfectly or impressively <nailed a jump shot>

  7. 6 :  to gain or win decisively —often used with down <nail down their consent>

  8. 7 :  to settle, establish, or represent clearly and unmistakably —often used with down

  9. 8 usually vulgar :  to copulate with

nail·er noun

Examples of nail

  1. Nail the picture to the wall.

  2. All the doors were nailed shut.

  3. He got nailed by his parents while trying to sneak out of the house.

  4. He got nailed for not paying his taxes.

  5. The FBI has nailed the hackers.

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of nail

before 12th century

Other Building Terms

Medical Dictionary


noun \ˈnā(ə)l\

Medical Definition of nail

  1. 1:  a horny sheath of thickened and condensed epithelial stratum lucidum that grows out from a vascular matrix of dermis and protects the upper surface of the end of each finger and toe of humans 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—called also nail plate

  2. 2:  a structure (as a claw) that terminates a digit and corresponds to a nail

  3. 3:  a rod (as of metal) used to fix the parts of a broken bone in normal relation <a medullary nail>

Seen and Heard

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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