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nail (someone) down (on something)
To establish or determine some specific details or information (about something) with someone. I'd like to nail them down on the dates so I can start looking at ticket prices for flights. Has anyone been able to nail the janitor down on the cause of the electrical failures?
1. Literally, to use nails as a means of securing something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "nail" and "down." 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. A noun or pronoun can be used between "nail" and "down." 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.
3. To force someone to give a firm or unambiguous commitment (about or to do something). A noun or pronoun can be used between "nail" and "down." I've been trying to nail down the boss on when we could expect the bonuses to be paid out. The reporter kept trying to nail her down, but the senator refused to clarify her position on the issue.
4. To catch or apprehend someone, especially a criminal. A noun or pronoun can be used between "nail" and "down." Police have been trying to nail down the killer for weeks. We've finally got enough hard evidence to nail this scumbag down for good!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.