Down on the nail, Pay down on the nail. In ready money. In Latin: “Super unguem;” in French: “Sur Vongle;” as, “Boire la
goutte sur Vongle ” (see Supernaculum), “Payer rubis sur
Vongle, ” where rubis means red wine. The Latin ungulus (from unguis) means a “shot” or reckoning, hence ungulum
dare, to pay one's reckoning.
“Quo quibus prisis, et cariagiis pleana flat solucio super unguem.” —An Indenture dated July 15th, 1326 (Scot's Act)
O'Keefe says: “In the centre of Limerick Exchange is a pillar with a
circular plate of copper about three feet in diameter, called The
Nail, on which the earnest of all stock-exchange bargains has to
A similar custom prevailed at Bristol, where were four pillars,
called nails, in front of the Exchange for a similar purpose. In
Liverpool Exchange there is a plate of copper called The Nail, on which bargains are settled.
Hung on the nail.
Up the spout, put in pawn. The custom referred to is that of
hanging each pawn on a nail, with a number attached, and giving the
customer a duplicate thereof. Very similar to the custom of guarding
hats, cloaks, walking-sticks, and umbrellas, in public exhibitions and
To hit the nail on the head.
To come to a right conclusion. In Latin, “Rem tenes.
Germans have the exact phrase, “Den Nagel auf den kopf treffen.
(For want of a). “For want of a nail, the shoe is lost;
for want of a shoe, the horse is lost; and for want of a horse, the
rider is lost.” (Herbert Jacula Prudentum.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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