What is the origin of the phrase "spitting nails"? I know what it means, but am curious about its origin. Can you help?
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Spit nails is an AmE variant of the more common methaporic expressions
(US also spit nails, Australian English also spit tacks):
- to speak in an angry way, or to show anger: I thought he was going to spit blood when he saw what had happened. (Cambridge Dictionary)
The expression is from the '60s:
1965 Sep. 6, Ann Landers, "Exception is Acknowledged," Spokane Daily Chronicle, p. 17 (retrieved 22 Nov 2013):
[O]ne thing about Aunt Jenny gets me so mad I could spit nails.