A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Nail (noun)

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1346

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1346

Nail. n.s. [nœᵹl, Saxon; nagel, German.]

  1. The hard crust or horny substance at the ends of the fingers and toes.

    My nails can reach unto thine eyes. Shakespeare.

    The meanest sculptor in th' Æmilian square,
    Can imitate in brass, the nails and hair;
    Expert in trifles.

    The nails of our fingers give strength to those parts in the various functions they are put to; and defend the numerous nerves and tendons that are under them. Ray.

  2. The talons of birds and beasts.

  3. A spike of metal by which things are fastened together.

    As one nail by strength drives out another;
    So the remembrance of my former love
    Is by a newer object soon forgotten.

    For the body of the ships, no nation doth equal England, nor for the oaken timber to build them; and we need not borrow iron for spikes or nails, to fasten them together. Bacon's Advice to Villiers.

    The load-stone mines in the shore of India, are so placed in abundance and vigor, that it proves an adventure of hazard to pass those coasts in a ship with iron nails. Brown's Vulgar Errours, b. ii. c. 3.

                        A beechen pail
    Hung by the handle, on a driven nail.

    An equivocal word used for the nail of the hand or foot, and for an iron nail to fasten any thing. Watts.

  4. A stud; a boss.

  5. A kind of measure; two inches and a quarter.

  6. On the nail. Readily; immediately; without delay. I suppose from a counter studded with nails.

    We want our money on the nail,
    The banker's ruin'd if he pays.
    Swift's Poems.

Sources: Bacon, Francis (396) · Browne, Thomas (203) · Dryden, John (788) · Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (28) · Ray, John (59) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona (41) · Watts, Isaac (116)

Attributes: German (30) · Noun Substantive (1269) · Saxon (215)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Nail (noun)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: January 9, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/nail-noun/.

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