Definition of nail-biter in US English:



  • 1A situation causing great anxiety or tension.

    ‘a nail-biter of a victory’
    • ‘The fight on the cable car is still a nail-biter.’
    • ‘This game was a sellout and a nail-biter, making the for the most exciting possible finish.’
    • ‘Field events like this are real nail-biters - similar to watching the recent Canada vs. United States hockey game.’
    • ‘The Knights have not exactly been forced to endure a lot of nail-biters this season.’
    • ‘This is a genuine nail-biter and, upon occasion, stomach-turner.’
    • ‘Bring in the manicurists because this is going to be a nail-biter.’
    • ‘The event has always been a nail-biter in the past - this year it is a bit of a foot-stomper, as the older gentlemen show no signs of having come to dance.’
    • ‘And while the Panthers had more luck in the Super Bowl, New England shut them down in the first half before Carolina found its rhythm in the second half of the 32-29 nail-biter.’
    • ‘The Canada-Sweden game that followed was also a nail-biter, but Sweden controlled the second half and put a couple in late to get a well-deserved win.’
    • ‘New Zealand won some nail-biters in the 1980s, but Australia, by good luck as much as good management, then enjoyed a decade of winning close ones.’
    • ‘Well, I think he would have lost, but I think it would have been yet another nail-biter as well.’
    • ‘Early on in Saturday's game, it appeared as though the Warriors were going to repeat their previous achievement, but the game quickly became a nail-biter.’
    • ‘And, speaking of nail-biters, the mission begins.’
    • ‘This game was a trial run of the first semi-final next week and it should turn out to be a nail-biter in good football tradition.’
    • ‘Apart from rooting interest, the games were explosive nail-biters, swollen with drama, and all a sports fan could hope for.’
    • ‘But like the Pats, they lost two nail-biters, 20-17 to the Rams in the season opener and a 21-20 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals.’
    • ‘It's an absorbing enough match, without being a total nail-biter.’
    • ‘If we don't see a better consensus before November 2nd, it's going to be one nail-biter of a night.’
    • ‘The grand finale is a nail-biter through a 14-mile, steep-cliffed gorge.’
    • ‘The book ‘never even resembles a nail-biter,’ said one. ‘Just too tame,’ said another.’
  • 2A person who bites their fingernails.

    ‘a fretful nail-biter’