What is the origin of the phrase "spitting nails"? I know what it means, but am curious about its origin. Can you help?
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.