nail something coffin


a slender, typically rod-shaped rigid piece of metal, usually in any of numerous standard lengths from a fraction of an inch to several inches and having one end pointed and the other enlarged and flattened, for hammering into or through wood, other building materials, etc., as used in building, in fastening, or in holding separate pieces together.
a thin, horny plate, consisting of modified epidermis, growing on the upper side of the end of a finger or toe.
a former measure of length for cloth, equal to 2¼ inches (6.4 cm).
verb (used with object)
to fasten with a nail or nails: to nail the cover on a box.
to enclose or confine (something) by nailing (often followed by up ): to nail up oranges in a crate.
to make fast or keep firmly in one place or position: Surprise nailed him to the spot.
to accomplish perfectly: the only gymnast to nail the dismount.
to secure by prompt action; catch or seize: The police nailed him with the goods.
to catch (a person) in some difficulty, lie, etc.
to detect and expose (a lie, scandal, etc.).
Slang. to hit (a person): He nailed him on the chin with an uppercut in the first round.
to focus intently on an object or subject: She kept her eyes nailed on the suspicious customer.
Obsolete. to stud with or as if with nails.
Verb phrases
nail down, to make final; settle once and for all: Signing the contract will nail down our agreement.
hit the nail on the head, to say or do exactly the right thing; be accurate or correct: Your analysis really hit the nail on the head.
nail in someone's / something's coffin, something that hastens the demise or failure of a person or thing: Every moment's delay is another nail in his coffin.
on the nail, Informal.
of present interest; under discussion.
without delay; on the spot; at once: He was offered a job on the nail.

before 900; (noun) Middle English nail(l), nayl(l), Old English nægl, cognate with Old Frisian neil, Old Saxon, Old High German nagal, Dutch nagel, German Nagel, Old Norse nagl fingernail, all < Germanic *naglaz; akin as derivative to Lithuanian nãgas, nagà hoof, OPruss nage foot, OCS noga leg, foot (Serbo-Croatian nòga, Czech noha, Russian nogá; probably orig. jocular reference to the foot as a hoof), OCS nogŭtĭ, Tocharian A maku, B mekwa fingernail, claw, all < North European Indo-European *Honogwh-; further akin to Old Irish ingen, Welsh ewin, Breton ivin < Celtic *ṇgwhīnā, Latin unguis < Italo-Celtic *Hongwhi-; Greek ónyx, stem onych-, Armenian ełungn < *Honogwh-; (v.) Middle English nail(l)(e), nayl(l)e(n), Old English næglian, cognate with Old Saxon neglian, Old High German negilen, Old Norse negla < Germanic *nagl-janan; compare Gothic ganagljan

nailless, adjective
naillike, adjective
renail, verb (used with object)

5. fix, secure, pin, fasten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
nail (neɪl)
1.  a fastening device usually made from round or oval wire, having a point at one end and a head at the other
2.  anything resembling such a fastening device, esp in function or shape
3.  fingernail See toenail the horny plate covering part of the dorsal surface of the fingers or toesRelated: ungual, ungular
4.  the claw of a mammal, bird, or reptile
5.  slang a hypodermic needle, used for injecting drugs
6.  a unit of length, formerly used for measuring cloth, equal to two and a quarter inches
7.  a nail in one's coffin an experience or event that tends to shorten life or hasten the end of something
8.  bite one's nails
 a.  to chew off the ends of one's fingernails
 b.  to be worried or apprehensive
9.  hard as nails
 a.  in tough physical condition
 b.  without sentiment or feelings
10.  hit the nail on the head to do or say something correct or telling
11.  on the nail (of payments) at once (esp in the phrase pay on the nail)
12.  to attach with or as if with nails
13.  informal to arrest or seize
14.  informal to hit or bring down, as with a shot: I nailed the sniper
15.  informal to expose or detect (a lie or liar)
16.  to fix or focus (one's eyes, attention, etc) on an object
17.  to stud with nails
Related: ungual, ungular
[Old English nǣgl; related to Old High German nagal nail, Latin unguis fingernail, claw, Greek onux]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. negel "metal pin," nægl "fingernail (O.E. handnægl), toenail," from P.Gmc. *naglaz (cf. O.H.G. nagel, O.Fris. neil, M.Du. naghel, Ger. Nagel "fingernail, small metal spike"), from PIE base *(o)nogh "nail" (cf. Gk. onyx, L. unguis "nail, claw," O.C.S. noga "foot," Lith. naga "hoof," O.C.S.
noguti "nail, claw," Lith. nagutis "fingernail," O.Ir. ingen, O.Welsh eguin "nail, claw"). The "fingernail" sense seems to be the original one. The verb is O.E. næglian, from P.Gmc. *ganaglijanan. Meaning "to catch, seize" is first recorded 1766. To bite one's nails as a sign of anxiety is attested from 1577. To hit the nail on the head "say or do just the right thing" is first recorded 1529.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

nail (nāl)

  1. A fingernail or toenail.

  2. A slender rod used in operations to fasten together the divided extremities of a broken bone.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Nail definition

for fastening. (1.) Hebrew yathed, "piercing," a peg or nail of any material (Ezek. 15:3), more especially a tent-peg (Ex. 27:19; 35:18; 38:20), with one of which Jael (q.v.) pierced the temples of Sisera (Judg. 4:21, 22). This word is also used metaphorically (Zech. 10:4) for a prince or counsellor, just as "the battle-bow" represents a warrior. (2.) Masmer, a "point," the usual word for a nail. The words of the wise are compared to "nails fastened by the masters of assemblies" (Eccl. 12:11, A.V.). The Revised Version reads, "as nails well fastened are the words of the masters," etc. Others (as Plumptre) read, "as nails fastened are the masters of assemblies" (comp. Isa. 22:23; Ezra 9:8). David prepared nails for the temple (1 Chr. 22:3; 2 Chr. 3:9). The nails by which our Lord was fixed to the cross are mentioned (John 20:25; Col. 2:14). Nail of the finger (Heb. tsipporen, "scraping"). To "pare the nails" is in Deut. 21:12 (marg., "make," or "dress," or "suffer to grow") one of the signs of purification, separation from former heathenism (comp. Lev. 14:8; Num. 8:7). In Jer. 17:1 this word is rendered "point."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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