nail in someone’s or something’s coffin Go to (another) nail in someone’s or something’s coffin.
nail someone or something down 1. [with someone] to get a firm and final decision from someone (on something). (Also literal. Informal.)
I want you to find Bob and get an answer from him.
Nail him down one way or the other. T, Please nail down John on the question of signing the contract. 2. [with something] to get a firm and final decision (from someone) on something. (Informal.) Find Bob and nail down an answer. Let’s get in touch with John and nail down this contract.
naked as a jaybird Go to (as) naked as a jaybird. the naked eye the human eye, unassisted by optics, such as a telescope, microscope, or spectacles. I can’t see the bird’s markings with the naked eye. The scientist could see nothing in the liquid with the naked eye, but with the aid of a microscope, she identified the bacteria.
name of the game goal or purpose. (Slang.) The name of the game is sell. You must sell, sell, sell if you want to make a living. Around here, the name of the game is look out for yourself. name someone after someone else and name someone for someone else to give someone (usually a baby) the name of another person. We named our baby after my aunt. My parents named me for my grandfather. name someone for someone else Go to name someone after someone else. near at hand close or handy (to someone). (See also at hand; close at hand.) Do you have a pencil near at hand? My dictionary isn’t near at hand. neat as a pin Go to (as) neat as a pin. neck and neck exactly even, especially in a race or a contest. (Informal.) John and Tom finished the race neck and neck. Mary and Ann were neck and neck in the spelling contest. Their scores were tied. need something like a hole in the head not to need something at all. (Informal.) I need a housecat like I need a hole in the head! She needs a car like she needs a hole in the head. need something yesterday to require something in a very big hurry. (Informal.) Yes, I’m in a hurry! I need it yesterday! When do I need it? Now! Now! No, I need it yesterday! neither fish nor fowl not any recognizable thing; not any recognizable category. The car that they drove up in was neither fish nor fowl. It must have been made out of spare parts. This proposal is neither fish nor fowl. I can’t tell what you’re proposing. neither here nor there of no consequence or meaning; irrelevant and immaterial. Whether you go to the movie or stay at home is neither here nor there. Your comment—though interesting—is neither here nor there. neither hide nor hair no sign or indication (of someone or something). We could find neither hide nor hair of him. I don’t know where he is. There has been no one here—neither hide nor hair—for the last three days. 274 N never fear do not worry; have confidence. I’ll be there on time—never fear. I’ll help you, never fear. never had it so good Go to (have) never had it so good. never in one’s life not in one’s experience. Never in my life have I been so insulted! He said that never in his life had he seen such an ugly painting. never mind forget it; pay no more attention (to something). I wanted to talk to you, but never mind. It wasn’t important. Never mind. I’m sorry to bother you. never would have guessed 1. never would have thought something to be the case. (Not used in other tenses.) He was the one who did it? I never would have guessed. I never would have guessed that he wanted the job. He kept it a very good secret. 2. knew it all the time because it was so obvious. (Sarcastic. Not used in other tenses.) I never would have guessed that he wanted the job. He only begged and begged for it. Now she wants to go back home? I never would have guessed! She has been homesick for days. new ball game Go to (whole) new ball game. new blood Go to (some) new blood. new hire a person who has recently been hired; a newly employed person. Anne is our new hire who will begin work Tuesday. The accounting department is full of new hires. a new lease on life a renewed and revitalized outlook on life. Getting the job offer was a new lease on life. When I got out of the hospital, I felt as if I had a new lease on life. new to (all) this Go to (a little) new to (all) this. next-door neighbor the person living in the house or apartment closest to one’s own. My next-door neighbor came over to borrow a shovel. I will be visiting our next-door neighbor if you need me. next of kin someone’s closest living relative or relatives. The police notified the dead man’s next of kin. My next of kin lives 800 miles away. next to nothing hardly anything; almost nothing. This car’s worth next to nothing. It’s full of rust. I bought this antique chair for next to nothing. next to someone or something near to someone or something; adjacent to someone or something. I live next to a bank. Please sit next to me. nice and some quality enough of some quality; adequately; sufficiently. It is nice and cool this evening. I think your steak is nice and done now and probably overcooked. nickel and dime someone to charge someone many small amounts of money; to assess many small fees against someone. We will not stay at that resort again. They nickel and dime you to death in that place. There is a charge for everything. Tuition at the university hasn’t gone up in two years but other small fees have. They really nickel and dime you there. night and day Go to day and night. a night on the town a night of celebrating (at one or more places in a town). Did you enjoy your night on the town? After we got the contract signed, we celebrated with a night on the town. night owl someone who usually stays up very late. (Preceded by be, become, seem like, or act like.) Anne’s a real night owl. She never goes to bed before 2 a.m. and sleeps till noon. Jack’s a night owl and is at his best after midnight. a nine days’ wonder something that is of interest to people only for a short time. Don’t worry about the story about you in the newspaper. It’ll be a nine days’ wonder, and then people will forget. The elopement of Jack and Anne was a nine days’ wonder. Now people never mention it. a nine-to-five job a job with regular and normal hours. I wouldn’t want a nineto-five job. I like the freedom I have as my own boss. I used to work nights, but now I have a nine-to-five job. a nine-to-five job 275 nip and tuck almost even; almost tied. (Informal.) The horses ran nip and tuck for the first half of the race. Then my horse pulled ahead. In the football game last Saturday, both teams were nip and tuck throughout the game. nip something in the bud to put an end to something at an early stage. (Also literal.) John is getting into bad habits, and it’s best to nip them in the bud. There was trouble in the classroom, but the teacher nipped it in the bud. No big deal! Not a big problem! (Informal.) It didn’t hurt. No big deal! It isn’t a problem. No big deal! no buts about it Go to no ifs, ands, or buts about it. No can do. It can’t be done.; I can’t do it. (Slang.) Sorry, John. No can do. I can’t sell you this one. I’ve promised it to Mrs. Smith. BILL: Please fix this clock today. BOB: No can do. It’ll take a week to get the parts. No comment. I have nothing to say on this matter. Q: When did you stop beating your dog? A: No comment. Q: Georgie, did you chop down the cherry tree? A: No comment. no doubt surely; without a doubt; undoubtedly. He will be here again tomorrow, no doubt. No doubt you will require a ride home? no end of something lots of something. (Informal.) It was a wonderful banquet. They had no end of good food. Tom is a real problem. He’s no end of trouble. no flies on someone someone is not slow; someone is not wasting time. (Refers to a person moving too fast to allow flies to light.) Of course I work fast. I go as fast as I can. There are no flies on me. There are no flies on Robert. He does his work very fast and very well. no great shakes nothing important or worth noticing. (Slang.) It’s okay, but it’s no great shakes. I like John, but he’s no great shakes when it comes to sports. no hard feelings no anger or resentment. (Informal. No can be replaced with any.) I hope you don’t have any hard feelings. No, I have no hard feelings. No harm done. It is all right. No one or nothing has been harmed. (Informal.) It’s okay. No harm done. A: I am sorry I stepped on your toe. B: No harm done. no holds barred with no restraints. (Slang. From wrestling.) I intend to argue it out with Mary, no holds barred. When Ann negotiates a contract, she goes in with no holds barred and comes out with a good contract. no ifs, ands, or buts about it and no buts about it absolutely no discussion, dissension, or doubt about something. I want you there exactly at eight, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is the best television set available for the money, no buts about it. no joke a serious matter. (Informal.) It’s no joke when you miss the last train. It’s certainly no joke when you have to walk home. no kidding [spoken] honestly; [someone is] not joking or lying. (Slang.) No kidding, you really got an A in geometry? I really did, no kidding. no laughing matter a serious matter. Be serious. This is no laughing matter. This disease is no laughing matter. It’s quite deadly. no love lost (between someone and someone else) no friendship wasted between someone and someone else (because they are enemies). Ever since their big argument, there has been no love lost between Tom and Bill. You can tell by the way that Jane is acting toward Ann that there is no love lost. no matter what happens in any event; without regard to what happens (in the future). We’ll be there on time, no matter what. No matter what happens, we’ll still be friends. No news is good news. If one has not had any information about someone or something for some time, it means that all is well, since one would have heard if anything bad or unfortunate had occurred. nip and tuck 276 (Proverb.) I haven’t heard from my son since he left for college, but I suppose no news is good news. I think Joan would have heard by now if she hadn’t got the job. No news is good news. no point in something no purpose in doing something. There is no point in locking the barn door now that the horse has been stolen. There’s no point is crying over spilled milk. no problem Go to no sweat. no skin off someone’s nose Go to no skin off someone’s teeth. no skin off someone’s teeth and no skin off someone’s nose no difficulty for someone; no concern of someone. It’s no skin off my nose if she wants to act that way. She said it was no skin off her teeth if we wanted to sell the house. no sooner said than done When Sally asked for someone to open the window, it was no sooner said than done. As Jane opened the window, she said, “No sooner said than done.” no spring chicken not young (anymore). (Informal.) I don’t get around very well anymore. I’m no spring chicken, you know. Even though John is no spring chicken, he still plays tennis twice a week. no sweat and no problem no difficulty; do not worry. (Slang.) Of course I can have your car repaired by noon. No sweat. You’d like a red one? No problem. no trespassing do not enter. (Usually seen on a sign. Not usually spoken.) The sign on the tree said, “No Trespassing.” So we didn’t go in. The angry farmer chased us out of the field shouting, “Get out! Don’t you see the no trespassing sign?” no two ways about it no choice about it; no other interpretation of it. (Folksy. Note the form there’s rather than there are.) You have to go to the doctor whether you like it or not. There’s no two ways about it. This letter means you’re in trouble with the tax people. There’s no two ways about it. no-win situation a situation where there is no correct or satisfactory solution. The general was too weak to fight and too proud to surrender. It was a no-win situation. The huge dog my father gave us as a gift eats too much. If we get rid of the dog, my father will be insulted. If we keep it, we will go broke buying food for it. This is a classic no-win situation. no wonder [something is] not surprising. (Informal.) No wonder the baby is crying. She’s wet. It’s no wonder that plant died. You watered it too much. nobody’s fool a sensible and wise person who is not easily deceived. Mary’s nobody’s fool. She knows Jack would try to cheat her. Anne looks as though she’s not very bright, but she’s nobody’s fool. nod off to fall asleep, usually while sitting up. (Informal.) Jack nodded off during the minister’s sermon. Father always nods off after Sunday lunch. none of someone’s beeswax none of someone’s business (Slang.) The answer to that question is none of your beeswax. It’s none of your beeswax what I do with my spare time. none of someone’s business not of someone’s concern. (A gentle rebuke.) Q: When are you going to leave for home? A: None of your business. How I manage to keep thin is none of your business. none other than someone the very person. The new building was opened by none other than the mayor. Jack’s wife turned out to be none other than my cousin. none the wiser not knowing any more. I was none the wiser about the project after the lecture. It was a complete waste of time. Anne tried to explain the situation tactfully to Jack, but in the end, he was none the wiser. none the worse for wear no worse because of use or effort. I lent my car to John. When I got it back, it was none the worse for wear. I had a hard day today, but I’m none the worse for wear. none too something not very something; not at all something. The towels in the none too something 277 bathroom were none too clean. It was none too warm in their house. nose about Go to nose around. nose around and nose about to investigate; to check (into something). (Informal.) I don’t have an answer to your question, but I’ll nose around and see what I can find out. I’ll nose about, too. Who knows what we’ll find out? nose in(to something) to move into something, front end first. Slowly the car nosed into its parking place. You must nose in very carefully. [nose is in the air] Go to one’s nose is in the air. nose someone out to push someone away; to exclude someone. Where I work someone is always trying to nose me out. I’d hate to lose my job. T John nosed out Bill from the team. not a bit none at all. Am I unhappy? Not a bit. I don’t want any mashed potatoes. Not a bit! [not able] Go to the expressions listed at can’t as well as those listed below. not able to call one’s time one’s own too busy; so busy as not to be in charge of one’s own schedule. (Informal. Not able to is often expressed as can’t.) It’s been so busy around here that I haven’t been able to call my time my own. She can’t call her time her own these days. not able to go on unable to continue (doing something—even living). (Not able to is often expressed as can’t.) I just can’t go on this way. Before her death, she left a note saying she was not able to go on. not able to help something unable to prevent or control something. (Not able to is often expressed as can’t.) I’m sorry about being late. I wasn’t able to help it. Bob can’t help being boring. not able to make anything out of someone or something unable to understand someone or something. (Not able to is often expressed as can’t. The anything may refer to something specific, as in the first example.) I can’t make sense out of what you just said. We were not able to make anything out of the message. not able to see the forest for the trees allowing many details of a situation to obscure the situation as a whole. (Not able to is often expressed as can’t.) The solution is obvious. You missed it because you can’t see the forest for the trees. She suddenly realized that she hadn’t been able to see the forest for the trees. not able to stomach someone or something and cannot stomach someone or something not to be able to put up with someone or something; not to be able to tolerate or endure someone or something. Jane cannot stomach violent movies. The unpopular student could not stomach a lot of ridicule. not able to wait to have to go to the bathroom urgently. (Also literal in a general sense. Informal.) Mom, I can’t wait. Driver, stop the bus! My little boy can’t wait. not agree with someone [for food] to make someone ill; [for something one has eaten] to give one minor stomach distress. Fried foods don’t agree with Tom. I always have onions in my garden, but I never eat them. They just don’t agree with me. not a living soul nobody. (Informal. See also not tell a (living) soul.) No one was there—not a living soul. Not a living soul saw me leave. not all something is cracked up to be and not what something is cracked up to be not as good as something is said to be. (Informal. Not always in the negative.) This isn’t a very good pen. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Is this one all it’s cracked up to be? This restaurant isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. not all there not mentally adequate; crazy or silly. (Informal.) Sometimes I think you’re not all there. Be nice to Sally. She’s not all there. not a moment to spare and without a moment to spare just in time; with no extra time. Hurry, hurry! There’s not nose about 278 a moment to spare! I arrived without a moment to spare. not at all certainly not; absolutely not. No, it doesn’t bother me—not at all. I’m not complaining. Not me. Not at all. not bat an eyelid to show no signs of distress even when something bad happens or something shocking is said. Sam didn’t bat an eyelid when the mechanic told him how much the car repairs would cost. The pain of the broken arm must have hurt Sally terribly, but she did not bat an eyelid. not believe one’s eyes not to believe what one is seeing; to be shocked or dumbfounded at what one is seeing. I walked into the room and I couldn’t believe my eyes. All the furniture had been stolen! When Jimmy opened his birthday present, he could hardly believe his eyes. Just what he wanted! not born yesterday experienced; knowledgeable in the ways of the world. I know what’s going on. I wasn’t born yesterday. Sally knows the score. She wasn’t born yesterday. not breathe a word (about someone or something) to keep a secret about someone or something. Don’t worry. I won’t breathe a word about the problem. Please don’t breathe a word about Bob and his problems. not breathe a word of it not to tell something (to anyone). Don’t worry. I won’t breathe a word of it. Tom won’t breathe a word of it. not buy something not accept something (to be true). (Also literal. Slang.) You may think so, but I don’t buy it. The police wouldn’t buy his story. not by a long shot not by a great amount; not. (Informal.) Did I win the race? Not by a long shot. Not by a long shot did she complete the assignment. not care two hoots (about someone or something) and not give two hoots (about someone or something); not give a hang (about someone or something); not give a hoot (about someone or something) not to care at all about someone or something. (Folksy.) I don’t care two hoots about whether you go to the picnic or not. She doesn’t give a hoot about me. Why should I care? I don’t give a hang about it. not dry behind the ears Go to wet behind the ears. not enough room to swing a cat not very much space. (Folksy.) Their living room was very small. There wasn’t enough room to swing a cat. How can you work in a small room like this? There’s not enough room to swing a cat. not for a moment not at all; not even for a short amount of time; never. I don’t want you to leave. Not for a moment! I could not wish such a horrible punishment on anyone. Not for a moment! not for (anything in) the world and not for love nor money; not on your life not for anything (no matter what its value). (Note the variation in the examples. The order of love nor money is fixed.) I won’t do it for love nor money. He said he wouldn’t do it—not for the world. She said no, not for anything in the world. Me, go there? Not on your life!