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A nail is a piece of hardware that is used in the construction of large or small objects. You usually need a hammer in order to drive the nail into something.

  • John needed a hammer and some nails to fix his garage door.
  • Nails joined the 2x4s together as the house was built.
  • I used a nail to hang a picture on the wall.

The word "nail" is often used as a verb:

This is a frame for a wall.

  • The carpenters are nailing together a frame for a wall.
  • It took them just about an hour to nail this together.
  • Wallboard will be nailed to the frame.

There are many expressions that use the word "nail."

  • The police finally nailed the guy who was breaking into the houses on our street. (nail = catch a criminal)
  • He got nailed by the police. (He was caught.)
  • I’m going to get nailed to the cross if I arrive late. (nailed to the cross = to incite anger or punishment)
  • The owner of the company nailed him down on some specific proposals. (nail one down on = identify a belief or an opinion.)
  • Maria is trying to nail down a few new customers this week. (nail down = secure; get)
  • Tom nailed all the questions he was asked during the interview. (nail = answer correctly)
  • Nailed it! (I got the right answer / I did something well.)

You can also use the word "nail" when describing "fingernails."

  • She paints her nails with pink polish.
  • Nguyen does nails for a living. She’s a manicurist.
  • It’s not polite to cut your nails in public.

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This page was first published on August 13, 2012. It was updated on July 15, 2015.



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