I came across a few combinations of 'nailed it' or 'nailed down' in various contexts. According to the blog-posts, it seems to be widespread on the internet. However, I have never heard these expressions in the real life. Is "nailed it" a common expression? What does it mean?

I appreciate every answer!


5 Answers 5


I believe that you are referring to the idiomatic meanings.

nailed it
to complete a task successfully or get something right


A: Oh, you didn't burn the cake this time.
B: Yep, nailed it!

Nail down can have a similar meaning.

nail down

  1. : to make (something, such as a victory) certain to happen
    <They need to score another touchdown to nail down the victory.>
  2. : to find out or identify (something) exactly
    <Her doctors haven't yet been able to nail down a diagnosis.>
    <They're trying to nail down the cause of our network problems.>
  3. : to make (something) definite or final
    <nail down a decision>

People do use these phrases in everyday life. However, nailed it has become a popular way to signal sarcasm. Here is one example. enter image description here

You can read more at Know Your Meme: Nailed It.

  • Whoaw, exactly like the picture above:). I was wondering what does it mean all the time (because it's not what we want to achieve with the cookies for example) but now with the sarcasm it make sense for me:). However sometimes I found rude, or even sexual context too. Is it the same sarcasm/joke or is it serious? Or it does based on the context? Jun 27, 2016 at 7:07
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    It is different. In other contexts, to nail someone can be a vulgar/slang way to say to have sex, intercourse. It can also mean to mistreat, exploit, or cheat someone, usually in a financial sense.
    – Em.
    Jun 27, 2016 at 7:11
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    @BálintPap You may be interested in this question on ELU.
    – Yay
    Jun 27, 2016 at 8:42
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    To "nail" someone might also mean to catch them violating some rule or law (and, usually, punish or arrest them).
    – Kevin
    Jun 28, 2016 at 0:53
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    @BálintPap I suppose you could (you'd probably be understood,) but that particular usage seems a bit awkward to me. It's more commonly used to describe past events than to inform someone that they've been nailed. For example, "Joe was nailed for shoplifting last night" would be a more common usage. "Busted" is used similarly.
    – reirab
    Jun 28, 2016 at 18:38

This is a good question, because this figure of speech occurs quite often among English language speakers.

A "nail" in this context is a sharp, pointed metal object that you use to connect boards together, etc. : http://www.homedepot.com/p/Grip-Rite-11-1-2-x-2-3-8-in-8-Penny-Vinyl-Coated-Steel-Sinker-Nails-1-lb-Pack-8CTDSKR1/202308520

"nailed it" means you got something exactly right, or did something perfectly. You can think of someone trying to hammer a nail into a board. They hit the nail so perfectly that the nail goes straight into the board very well. If you scored 100% on an exam, you "nailed it". It could also mean something bad: suppose you hit and crushed a mailbox with your car. You "nailed" the mailbox.

"got nailed" means you got hit by something or were caught doing something wrong.

To "nail down" something means to get a focused, finished answer to something. For example, you could be uncertain how to reach a CEO of a large corporation. If you somehow got their personal cellphone number, you "nailed down" how to reach them. Also, suppose a person is trying to avoid answering a question. If you "nail down" the person, you conversationally pin the person into a corner so they are forced to answer your question directly and properly. Visually, you can think of a tent blowing in the wind. You "nail down" the tent with spikes to keep it from blowing around or blowing away. It's that idea.

Here are some expressions that illustrate the idea:

"That football kick was awesome... you nailed it!"

"The boxer nailed that guy in face and knocked him out with one punch."

"We really need to nail down our business plans for next year. Right now we are just guessing at things."

"We need to nail Mark down as to whether he plans to buy the car or not. Otherwise, we are going to sell it to someone else."

"The politician got nailed in a bribery investigation and is now going to jail."

"The drunk driver nailed three people on the sidewalk with his car. They are all in the hospital."

"Somebody in our business is stealing. We need to find a way to nail them."


This is the most common meaning:


(verb) to do something perfectly or successfully

Example Sentences:

Good luck on your performance today, Jimmy. I hope you nail it!

Yes! I nailed it! Shouted the happy football player after the important goal.


If you nail something down, it means that you make a decision and finalise all the details about it.

We have had several meetings about that, but we finally nailed it down yesterday.

It is a term that is more often used by aggressive business people- salesmen and such like- than by ordinary people.

  • Maybe it's more often used by such people, but certainly not exclusively. As an engineer, I use the term in similar contexts (e.g. "We nailed down the requirements in the meeting yesterday," or, as probably every engineer ever has said or thought, "We need to nail down the requirements before we start the detailed design work." :) )
    – reirab
    Jun 28, 2016 at 18:42

'Nailed it' is an exclamation in reaction to something that has been a success, or something has been perfectly explained, or something difficult has been achieved - "I nailed it - I passed the test", "You nailed it, by describing the world crisis in a cartoon."

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