Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: nail

Type: Article

As usual, Tim Bowen hits the nail on the head with another batch of idioms.

If you fight tooth and nail over something, you fight or argue with great energy and determination, as in ‘Ministers have been fighting tooth and nail over the issue of budget cuts’.

A person who is described as being as hard as nails is very tough and is not usually affected by emotions such as sadness or sympathy, as in ‘You’d have to be as hard as nails not to shed a tear at the end of this movie’.

A nail in the coffin is one of a series of events or actions that seriously harm someone or something, as in ‘The closure of the factory is another nail in the coffin for industry in this area’.

If you hit the nail on the head, you say something that is exactly right or very true, as in ‘Peter hit the nail on the head when he said that what this company lacks is ambition’.

If you nail your colours to the mast, you say clearly and publicly who you support or what you think about something, as in ‘In backing the spending cuts, the prime minister has nailed his colours firmly to the mast’.

If you nail a rumour or a lie, you show that it is not true, as in ‘I think it’s time to nail these rumours about a secret deal once and for all’.

A nail-biting situation is one that makes you very worried, as in ‘When we were leading 3-0 at half-time, we didn’t expect such a nail-biting end to the match’. The match in question could also be described as a nail-biter, e.g. ‘It was a real nail-biter’.

Rate this resource (4.5 average user rating)

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

You must be signed in to rate.

  • Share

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Macmillan Dictionary

Free pragmatics lesson plans brought to you by Macmillan Dictionary as part of the Macmillan Year of Life skills.

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup