Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR NAIL

In the beginning, a star, when drawn with a nail into a brick looked as follows.

On a nail driven into the door frame hung a heavy bull whip.

He was sent home, and hung upon a nail over against my table.

You left them hanging upon the nail, and you found them there.

The latter was angered, and he swallowed her, tooth and nail.

"Captain Blake has hit the nail squarely on the head," he stated.

This hung by a bit of string to a nail projecting from the wall.

His only tools were a knife, a tiny saw the size of a nail file and a pot of glue.

When he read at night-time, he would hang his lamp on a nail at the head of the bed.

You ought to have called me, and we would have hung her up by the feet to a nail in your kitchen.'

WORD ORIGIN

Old English negel "metal pin," nægl "fingernail (handnægl), toenail," from Proto-Germanic *naglaz (cf. Old Norse nagl "fingernail," nagli "metal nail;" Old Saxon and Old High German nagel, Old Frisian neil, Middle Dutch naghel, Dutch nagel, German Nagel "fingernail, small metal spike"), from PIE root *(o)nogh "nail" (cf. Greek onyx "claw, fingernail;" Latin unguis "nail, claw;" Old Church Slavonic noga "foot," noguti "nail, claw;" Lithuanian naga "hoof," nagutis "fingernail;" Old Irish ingen, Old Welsh eguin "nail, claw").

The "fingernail" sense seems to be the original one. Nail polish attested from 1891. To bite one's nails as a sign of anxiety is attested from 1570s. Nail-biting is from 1805. Hard as nails is from 1828. To hit the nail on the head "say or do just the right thing" is first recorded 1520s. Phrase on the nail "on the spot, exactly" is from 1590s, of obscure origin; OED says it is not even certain it belongs to this sense of nail.

MORE RELATED WORDS FOR NAIL

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.