Dictionary

hangnail

noun hang·nail \-ˌnāl\

: a small piece of skin hanging loose at the side or bottom of a fingernail

Full Definition of HANGNAIL

:  a bit of skin hanging loose at the side or root of a fingernail

Origin of HANGNAIL

by folk etymology from agnail inflammation about the nail, from Middle English, corn on the foot or toe, from Old English angnægl, from ang- (akin to enge tight, painful) + nægl nail — more at anger
First Known Use: 1678
HANGNAIL Defined for Kids

hangnail

noun hang·nail \ˈhaŋ-ˌnāl\

Definition of HANGNAIL for Kids

:  a bit of skin hanging loose at the side or base of a fingernail

Word History of HANGNAIL

Hangnail is an alteration of an earlier word angnail (or agnail), which did not at first mean what we now call a hangnail. The Old English ancestor of the word was angnægl, corn on the foot, with the second part, nægl, referring not to a toenail but rather to the nail we drive in with a hammer, the head of an iron nail being likened to a hard corn. By the 1500s the association of -nail with the body's nails led to a new sense for angnail, sore around a fingernail or toenail. In the next century, ang- was altered to hang-, and the main sense came to be bit of loose skin at the side or root of a fingernail.
Medical Dictionary

hangnail

noun hang·nail \ˈhaŋ-ˌnāl\

Medical Definition of HANGNAIL

:  a bit of skin hanging loose at the side or root of a fingernail

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