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nail (something) down
1. Literally, to use nails as a means of securing something. Remember to nail the tarp down, or it will get blown away when the storm hits! I've been meaning to nail down this loose step before someone falls over it.
2. To establish or determine something with specificity. I'd like to nail down the dates we want to fly so I can start looking at ticket prices. I think we've nailed down the cause of the electrical failures. It seems like you're struggling to nail down what your essay is really trying to say.
nail someone down
(on something) Go to pin someone down (on something).
nail something down
1. to secure something down by nailing it. Please nail the floorboard down or someone will trip over it. I'll nail down these floorboards.
2. Go to pin something down.
Establish conclusively, as in The reporter nailed down the story by checking all the facts. This metaphoric expression alludes to fixing or fastening something down with nails. [c. 1600]
1. To secure something or make it unable to move by driving nails through it and into another object: On the passenger ship, the workers nailed the tables down so that they wouldn't slide around during the storm. We examined the deck and nailed down all loose boards.
2. To specify or fix something: After months of evading the question, the candidate finally nailed down her position on the war. We can't release the schedule until we've nailed it down.
3. To discover or establish something conclusively: The reporter nailed down the story by checking all the facts. We looked for the source of the problem but couldn't nail it down.
4. To win something decisively: She nailed down her sixth win of the season with a birdie on the 18th hole. We nailed the top spot down by defeating the two best teams in the league.