nail

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a horny sheath protecting the upper end of each finger and toe of humans and most other primates
b
: a structure (such as a claw) that terminates a digit and corresponds to a nail
2
: a slender usually pointed and headed fastener designed to be pounded in

nail

2 of 2

verb

nailed; nailing; nails

transitive verb

1
: to fasten with or as if with a nail
2
: to fix in steady attention
nailed his eye on the crack
3
a
: catch, trap
b
: to expose usually so as to discredit
c
: to arrest or punish for an offense
4
a
: to hit or strike in a forceful manner : whack sense 1a
nailed the ball
nailed him on the head with a rock
b
: to put out (a runner) in baseball
5
: to perform or complete perfectly or impressively
nailed a jump shot
6
: to gain or win decisively
often used with down
nail down their consent
7
: to settle, establish, or represent clearly and unmistakably
often used with down
8
usually vulgar : to copulate with
nailer noun

Examples of nail in a Sentence

Noun a hammer and some nails I get my nails done at the beauty salon every other week. a pair of nail clippers Verb Nail the picture to the wall. All the doors were nailed shut. He got nailed by his parents while trying to sneak out of the house. He got nailed for not paying his taxes. The FBI has nailed the hackers.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Trump weighs in on House affairs, again Trump’s foray into the debate Wednesday appeared to be the final nail in the coffin for House GOP leaders’ FISA plans. Ken Tran, USA TODAY, 11 Apr. 2024 My tool of choice is the Little Martin’s baby nail trimmer, which has a rougher attachment for adults that’s effective and easy to control. Jane Herman, Vogue, 7 Apr. 2024 Well With: Sparkling Currant Candle Dior Nail Glow Polish For an instant French manicure effect without having to go to the nail spa, the Dior Nail Glow is worth the splurge. Moriah Mason, Southern Living, 5 Apr. 2024 On one of her nails, the white French tip was replaced with a monarch butterfly wing. Staff Author, Peoplemag, 2 Apr. 2024 Most recently luxury nail artist Harriet Westmoreland created a cute, short set for her celebrity client Lily Allen. Elle Turner, Glamour, 2 Apr. 2024 Ice Box Jewelers will open near Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods. ▪ Royal Reflections nail salon will open next to LensCrafters. Catherine Muccigrosso, Charlotte Observer, 1 Apr. 2024 But there is also an irony in that the victory put the final nail in Bayern’s Bundesliga season but did not make Dortmund champions but another rival. Manuel Veth, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024 Indeed, the set features collaborators from various musical genres — including Post Malone and Miley Cyrus — as well as instruments such as the accordion, washboards, harmonicas and even her own nails. Anna Chan, Billboard, 29 Mar. 2024
Verb
But so was the dialogue, and this is where Cerda really nails it. Nina Metz, chicagotribune.com, 20 June 2017 Marist coach Colleen Biebel also sent Garofalo, who was nailed at home on a perfect relay throw from Barrington shortstop Julia Kozar. Tony Baranek, Daily Southtown, 10 June 2017 And making sure Johnson nailed all those backing vocals. Matt Wake, AL.com, 9 June 2017 Some houses had bathtubs, mirrors, furniture, crosses nailed to the wall. Washington Post, 5 June 2017 By nailing down Chance as the festival’s finale, before even his star-making turn at this year’s Grammy Awards, Sasquatch! grabbed one of this year’s marquee live acts for their youthful audience. Charles R. Cross, The Seattle Times, 24 May 2017 Why does Apple nail what channel the Cavs game is on but Google does not? Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, 18 May 2017 Finally, in 2011, Shell and Eni paid the government $1.3 billion, including about $200 million as a signature bonus -- a onetime fee charged by some oil-producing nations -- to nail down the contract once and for all. Chiara Albanese, Bloomberg.com, 9 May 2017 How could anyone nail both the keys and the rhythms with perfect accuracy? David Pogue, Scientific American, 3 July 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nail was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near nail

Cite this Entry

“Nail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nail. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

nail

1 of 2 noun
1
: a horny covering at the end of the fingers and toes of human beings, apes, and monkeys
also : a similar structure (as a claw) in other animals
2
: a slender usually pointed fastener with a head designed to be pounded in

nail

2 of 2 verb
1
: to fasten with or as if with a nail
2
: catch entry 1 sense 1, trap
nail a thief
3
: to hit or strike in a forceful or accurate way
nailed the ball
4
: to complete successfully
nailed the dismount
5
: to settle, establish, or represent clearly and unmistakably
nail down all the details
nailer noun

Medical Definition

nail

noun
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
: a structure (as a claw) that terminates a digit and corresponds to a nail
3
: a rod (as of metal) used to fix the parts of a broken bone in normal relation
a medullary nail

More from Merriam-Webster on nail

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