Main definitions of nag in English

: nag1nag2

nag1

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Harass (someone) constantly to do something that they are averse to:

    ‘she constantly nags her daughter about getting married’
    [with infinitive] ‘she nagged him to do the housework’
    [no object] ‘he's always nagging at her for staying out late’
    • ‘Asked if it was right to say she had nagged her husband in their marriage, she replied: ‘Yes, it is perfectly true.’’
    • ‘I'm adjusting my diet but it may be time to go nag the doctor for a change of medication.’
    • ‘Liam had always been the annoying kid next door who my mother constantly nagged me to be nice to.’
    • ‘My parents know what I do, and whilst not thrilled, are resigned enough not to nag me and trust that this is a temporary situation.’
    • ‘I'm a formerly skinny guy who has put on quite a bit of weight after my girlfriend nagged me constantly to do so.’
    • ‘Her mother is constantly nagging her about what she is going to do with her life.’
    • ‘She will not nag you and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you've had a disagreement.’
    • ‘Wallace nagged his father, an accountant, to take him to a meeting during the by-election.’
    • ‘But I certainly wouldn't want to be using my time to nag people about smoking and exercising.’
    • ‘She was a better influence on him and had nagged and nagged him to get a job.’
    • ‘Jim forsakes family for work, and Sarah nags him about it.’
    • ‘Every day, we would nag my big sister Nadia to find out when our mother was going to come and fetch us.’
    • ‘All I can do is offer tea and sympathy and resist the urge to nag him to go see a dentist.’
    • ‘I knew my life would be hell because she would nag me all the way through.’
    • ‘I used to nag her but she refused to live under a siege mentality.’
    • ‘We extend a welcome to all you women who constantly nag your husbands to complete those unfinished jobs, now is your chance to learn the skills yourself.’
    • ‘He keeps telling me I need to exercise and he nags me about it constantly, also commenting on what I should eat and ways to fight nausea.’
    • ‘‘As much as they might have nagged you when you were younger, you know they meant well,’ Jim says.’
    • ‘So I nag them, they nag me, and it's a collaborative effort.’
    • ‘I had to nag him a bit, but he did go to get it checked because he doesn't usually have a cough, so this was something different.’
    shrewish, complaining, grumbling, fault-finding, scolding, carping, cavilling, criticizing
    harass, keep on at, go on at, harp on at, badger, keep after, give someone a hard time, get on someone's back, persecute, chivvy, hound, harry, bully, pick on, criticize, find fault with, keep complaining to, moan at, moan on at, grumble at, henpeck, carp at, scold, upbraid, berate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[no object] Be persistently painful or worrying to:
      ‘something nagged at the back of his mind’
      • ‘Industry personifies these fears, and many within industry have nagging doubts that these fears are well founded.’
      • ‘For example, when Christine has had worries that nagged at her for days, she developed a dull backache.’
      • ‘I closed my eyes a moment, nagging worries melting away for the time being.’
      • ‘Self-doubt and injury nagged and niggled without mercy.’
      • ‘An idea was nagging in the back of her head but she hadn't quite let it come to surface.’
      • ‘She was trembling, and her stomach felt empty, nagging as it did when she was scared.’
      • ‘There is, however, one nagging worry in the regional breakdown of these UK figures.’
      • ‘However, I always had nagging doubts in the back of my mind: what if I wasn't white, young and healthy?’
      • ‘I have a nagging worry, too, that I'll never be able to run for higher office after having this blog for two years now.’
      • ‘Any more critical observations appear as afterthoughts or nagging doubts.’
      • ‘The only faint worry still nagging at the back of his mind was about his dream.’
      • ‘He is happy with his lot but has one major regret nagging away at him.’
      • ‘Louis sat back down and tried to enjoy his breakfast, but worry nagged at him and he lost his appetite.’
      • ‘However, there was something nagging about the melodies that caught my imagination.’
      • ‘But there are nagging doubts about just how durable this recovery really is.’
      • ‘I was making my way to the bathroom, when I heard Andrew ask Eden a question that had been nagging in my mind too.’
      • ‘However, as I walked on, it keep nagging and pulling at the back of my mind.’
      • ‘The family went looking for the pair, but by 7pm, nagging worries turned to real fear.’
      • ‘She hears it every day, niggling and nagging in the back of her mind, reminding her that she failed.’
      • ‘Callie was about to shut down the file when something in the back of her mind began nagging.’
      persistent, continuous, lingering, niggling, troublesome, unrelenting, unremitting, unabating
      View synonyms

noun

  • 1A person who nags someone to do something.

    • ‘Women put up with it because we don't want to be perceived as nags or, worse still, incompetent.’
    • ‘What I am getting at is, what if this person was a nag or very critical?’
    shrew, nagger, harpy, termagant, harridan
    moaner, complainer, grumbler, fault-finder, carper, caviller
    kvetch
    targe
    scold
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A persistent feeling of anxiety:
      ‘he felt a little nag of doubt’
      • ‘It's a persistent nag, an ever-present question mark.’

Origin

Early 19th century (originally dialect in the sense ‘gnaw’): perhaps of Scandinavian or Low German origin; compare with Norwegian and Swedish nagga gnaw, irritate and Low German ( g)naggen provoke.

Pronunciation:

nag

/naɡ/

Main definitions of nag in English

: nag1nag2

nag2

noun

informal, derogatory
  • 1A horse, especially one that is old or in poor health:

    ‘the old nag the lad fetched smelled sweaty’
    • ‘But at betting on the nags, as any regular reader will know, I am a chronic loser, a completely hopeless case.’
    • ‘One of his horses runs today, another tomorrow, and his final nag will run on Saturday.’
    • ‘Admittedly the horse is blind, half lame and being whipped by a lying two-faced jockey, but even dead on its feet it still looks like a safer bet than the alternative nags.’
    • ‘This old nag is the supposedly wonderfully well-bred mare you're trying to sell me?’
    • ‘I earn my living with my horse and wagon, and this morning my nag died.’
    • ‘Three crowns and an old nag she'd borrowed from a student (whose tribal language homework she'd done in exchange) would not buy her that automobile.’
    • ‘But it's not just any old nag, it's the champion racehorse Rock of Gibraltar - winner of seven consecutive Group One races.’
    • ‘Why I find it so funny is that many trainers haven't a clue how their nags will do until they get to the racecourse, and if they do have an inkling, the last people they are likely to tell are the hacks.’
    • ‘He jokingly refuted suggestions his horse won the race because of rumours the nag had been given steroids.’
    • ‘In the meantime, borrow one of their nags for the challenging on-site cross-country course; or head for Dartmoor, which is particularly wonderful just now, its brackeny hills the colour of copper.’
    • ‘Molly, the horse I ride most often, is difficult, I think she'd be better off as a one rider horse than a Riding school nag.’
    • ‘They weren't exactly a friendly group - they had hard, cold eyes, and those that rode on horses had only nags.’
    • ‘The two nags in the stable were barely fit to trot, a tree root had knocked the floor of the rifle range off its foundation, bats had taken over the ham-radio shack.’
    • ‘We both left slightly ahead, having cheered our nags with enthusiasm, a pint, and the best steak sandwich I've ever had.’
    • ‘He'd come all the way on a poor nag who should have been retired to the pastures a long time ago.’
    • ‘Instead of pristine white snow, you'll get a drab gray winter wonderland; instead of an inky-black horse, you'll get a gray nag.’
    • ‘Horses are now on sale from any member of the Parents Association and if you would like to lend a hand selling a few nags, sheets are available at the school or from any committee member.’
    • ‘Some are superb handlers of good horses, but less brilliant with moderate nags, or vice versa.’
    • ‘I'll never forget the look on her face the first time she sat on the old nag!’
    • ‘‘Dave,’ we said, ‘You're wasting your money on the nags, you'll end up in mounds of debt.’’
    worn-out horse, old horse, hack, rosinante
    bag of bones
    plug, crowbait
    moke
    screw
    jade, rip, keffel
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic A horse suitable for riding rather than as a draught animal.

Origin

Middle English: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation:

nag

/naɡ/