Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

Is this the correct place to be pushing an agenda to change a word that has had a useful meaning for about a hundred years (or hundreds?), that every construction worker will laugh their asses off at? The English language has homophones and homonyms. Sorry, but it is what it is. --Connel MacKenzie 18:36, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I've moved the reform proposals to the talk page. I really don't think we should get into the highly POV process of how English should be reformed. We have enough trouble describing the language as it is. Eclecticology 00:34, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)


  • Proposal: "Nail" is to be used only to mean "The thin, horny plate at the ends of fingers and toes on humans and some other animals."
  • Why? Homophones are undesirable and confusing to people learning English.
  • Replacement: "A spike-shaped metal fastener used for joining wood or similar materials." is to be renamed as "spike."
  • Dissent: "Nail" is a commonly used word in English.
  • Stronng Dissent: You hammer nails, not spikes. SemperBlotto 17:13, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • It's hard to imagine using 1/2-inch finishing spikes. Eclecticology 00:34, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • a)"nail" as "spike" and "nail" as "fingernail" are not homophones, they are two meanings of the same word, with the same etymology, from the Old English "naegel". Note that a homophone is "one of two or more words, such as night and knight, that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and sometimes spelling" (
b)No-one is ever going to get confused and sell you a bag of fingernails in a hardware store. They might get confused, however, if you asked for spikes, see next point.
c)Why would you want to add another meaning to the word "spike", which can already mean 8 different things? [1] How would that make English easier? Saintswithin 20:04, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)


  • Go and buy a bag of spikes at the hardware store. (noun)
  • Use a hammer to spike those pieces of wood together. (verb)

Basic English 850[edit]

  • nail (noun)
  • nail (verb)

Removed original research[edit]

I removed the following original research from the article because "catch a nail" and "caught a nail" in Google print always refers to the traditional metal objects:

"A nail" is old underworld slang for a sexually transmitted disease. See The Iceman Cometh and Hughie, by Eugene O'Neill, and Hickey's famous phrase: "I caught a nail from a tart in Altoona."
"A nail" is from the Irish compound word: ainfheoil (pron. a nail), which means "gross, corrupt flesh, granulations, fig. a sexually transmitted disease." Submiited with permission from the work of Daniel Cassidy, Professor of Irish Studies, New College of California.

Please discuss here if you disagree with the removal. Rodasmith 20:13, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Bristol sense[edit]

Would anyone be offended if I deleted sense 3 ("One of the four round pedestals in Bristol")? —scs 17:39, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Yup. A. I'm from Bristol :) and B. It actually has an important sense as the origin of the phrase "Cash on the nail" 4u1e 24 August 2007, 09:13 BST

Etymology of "nail"[edit]

Why are the noun and the verb separated from each other? Shouldn't we combine them?

We always keep different parts of speech separate. —Stephen (Talk) 10:39, 16 November 2012 (UTC)