1) A measure of length, possibly because nails originally marked off sections of a yard-stick.

First noted in a translated Latin passage: 1418 ‘from the said outer corner ... towards the fyshelendyng 5 ells and a nayle large’, York. Subsequently it was used frequently as a measure of cloth: 1434 Et pro uno quarterio et nale rus velvet pro gladio maioris, York

1454 In j nayle panni empto et dato pro exemplo vesture estivalis iiijd, York

1642 Some linen cloath ... there is againe which is yard broad or yard and nayle, Elmswell.

places Elmswell York
dates 1418 1434 1454 1642

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