nail

Definitions

General English

Construction

  • A slender piece of metal with a point on one end that is driven into construction materials by impact. Nails are classified by size, shape, and usage.

Medical

  • noun a hard growth, made of keratin, which forms on the top surface at the end of each finger and toe.

Real Estate

  • noun a strong metal pin with a flat round head and a pointed end that is hammered into wood or masonry and used to fasten objects together or hang something on
  • verb to fasten or secure something using nails

Origin & History of “nail”

The Indo-European ancestor of nail was *nogh- or *onogh-. The latter was the source of Latin unguis (which evolved into French ongle and Italian unghia and has given English ungulate (19th c.)) and Greek ónux (source of English onyx). Both these strands refer only to the sort of nails that grow on fingers and toes, but the Germanic branch of the family (which has come from *nogh- through a prehistoric Germanic *naglaz) has differentiated into a ‘fastening pin’ – originally of wood, latterly of metal. Hence English nail and German nagel cover both meanings (although Dutch and Swedish nagel and Danish negl are used only for the anatomical ‘nail’).
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