on the nail


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Related to on the nail: pay on the nail

on the nail

Immediately, promptly, or without delay; on the spot. I could put the bill on my credit card, but if it's all right with you I'd rather we divvy it up here and pay on the nail. After a few bad experiences with lodgers, I've learned to demand cash on the nail for the rent every Sunday, no exceptions.
See also: nail, on

on the nail

1. Immediately, without delay, as in He paid us back on the nail. [c. 1600]
2. Under discussion or consideration, as in The subject of the budget deficit has been on the nail for some time. [Late 1800s] The precise allusion in these expressions has been lost. Neither has any connection to hit the nail on the head (see under hit the bull's-eye).
See also: nail, on

on the nail

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
1. If you pay on the nail you pay for something immediately and in the form of notes and coins. She'd turn up to court to pay their fines, cash on the nail. She enjoyed collecting the lodgers' payments which she made sure were made on the nail. Note: The usual American expression is on the barrelhead.
2. If you talk about a particular time or amount on the nail, you mean that time or amount exactly. `When did Captain Schmidt come to see you?' — `Six o'clock, just about on the nail.' Note: This expression may refer to cylindrical counters called `nails' that were sometimes used by traders in the Middle Ages. When a price had been agreed, the money was placed on the nail, so that everyone could see that the correct amount was being paid.
See also: nail, on

on the nail

(of payment) without delay.
The origins of this expression are uncertain. It may be related to the obsolete phrase to the nail , meaning ‘to perfection’ or ‘to the utmost’, which derived from the habit of sculptors giving a finishing touch to their work with a fingernail, or to joiners testing the accuracy of a joint in the same way. A North American equivalent is on the barrelhead .
1993 Jonathan Gash Paid and Loving Eyes Illegal syndicates pay cash on the nail.
See also: nail, on

on the ˈnail

(informal) (of payment) without delay: They’re good customers who always pay on the nail.
See also: nail, on