In the following conversation from the Gilmore Girls episode "The Breakup, Part 2," what is the meaning of nailed:

Summer: Tristan, stop.

Tristan: You are making me chase around the party.

Summer: Just trying to have fun.

Tristan: You won't talk or dance with me. Why the hell did you come with me to the party?

Summer: Stop yelling.

Tristan: Summer, please, can we just go?

Summer: No, I am sick of fighting with you.


Summer: I think we should break up.

Tristan: I want to go outside and talk about this..

Summer: Then go. Bye.


Tristan (to Rory): You just loved it, don't you?

Rory: loved what?

Tristan: Seeing me nailed like that.

I did the research. Here is what I found:

pin someone down (on something) and nail someone down (on something)
Fig. to demand and receive a firm answer from someone to some question. (Alludes to shifting from answer to answer; commit to one answer or another.)

  • I tried to pin him down on a time and place, but he was very evasive.
  • Don't try to pin down the mayor on anything!
  • I want to nail her down on a meeting time.

Punching them in the face.

  • "Man I really nailed that guy in the face."

Or having sex with them

  • "I'm telling you dude, I totally nailed that chick last night"

Or if you catch someone in a crime or want to

  • "I'm gonna nail that bastard who shot my partner"

Or accidentally hitting someone with a nail gun

  • "Oh man I'm sorry dude I didn't mean to nail your face to the dog"

So it would be like "punished" when doing something wrong. Right? The last one seems to be closer in meaning. But I am not sure.

  • 4
    It probably implies 'nailed to the cross', 'crucified' - see also the sense of 'exposed', as in def 4b in the first group here, thefreedictionary.com/Nailed Mar 22, 2014 at 23:02
  • 1
    It looks like there are several inaccuracies in the transcription of the scene, including many omitted words. Please double check it and correct errors, as it's difficult to interpret meaning when the text is garbled. Mar 22, 2014 at 23:17
  • 2
    There is also "To strike or bring down" as in nail a bird in flight from the same link.
    – nxx
    Mar 23, 2014 at 1:22
  • But as it stands this question is not a great fit for the site. @user1539343 Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask
    – nxx
    Mar 23, 2014 at 1:24
  • "Nailed" has at least a half-dozen different figurative meanings. It's hard to guess which was intended without reading more context to get the style of the author and the mood of the scene.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 30, 2015 at 1:53

2 Answers 2


To my understanding, nailed here means outwitted/beaten, but also carries a sense of being struck down as well.

In other words, her conversational wit is kicking him while he's down:

He says he wants to go outside and talk about this (with her).

She says then go ahead . . . (Meaning, go outside and talk about it, but she won't be joining him, so he'll be talking to the air.)

He then accuses his friend of schadenfreude at seeing his misfortune (both at being beaten conversationally, and having his heart broken).

See here: Defeat or outwit an opponent.


One way to understand the word nailed in this context is as a short form of the idiom "nailed [one's] hide to the wall." Here's the entry for that idiom from The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1997):

nail (someone's) hide {or (vulgar) ass} to the wall {or barn door} to punish or otherwise put a finish to (someone).

[First cited occurrence:] 1937 Glidden Brand of Empire 88: Somebody is going to nail up his hide, Chris, and it won't be nice to see. ... [Later cited occurrence:] 1975 Railroad (Mar.) 48: You'd better stay out of his way, or he'll nail your hide to the roadhouse wall.

The same dictionary also has the allied phrase "nail [one] to the cross (or mast)," a possibility mentioned by Leon Conrad in a comment above:

nail (someone) to the cross {or mast} to punish or otherwise deal with (someone) in a final or decisive manner; (often) to castigate thoroughly.

Robert Chapman & Barbara Kipfer, Dictionary of American Slang, third edition (1995) has this:

nail someone or something to the cross (or the wall) v phr by 1990s To punish severely and publicly; make an example of; crucify: [examples omitted].

There are several other meanings of nailed, of course, including being thrown out (in baseball) or—figuratively—put in an untenable position, and being actually or figuratively hit squarely with a fist or weapon. In the example dialogue I get the impression that Tristan is equating his public humiliation by Summer to being nailed to a wall and left on display for all to see. (Notice how he says "I want to go outside and talk about this" but she refuses to take the argument out of public view.) Alternatively, he could simply be equating the effect of Summer's responses to him to getting punched in the face.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.