hangnail

noun
hang·​nail | \ ˈhaŋ-ˌnāl How to pronounce hangnail (audio) \

Definition of hangnail

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

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Did you know?

Hangnail is altered by folk etymology from angnail or agnail, which originally did not correspond to what we now know as “hangnail.” In Old English angnægl meant “corn on the foot,” with the element nægl referring not to a fingernail but rather the nail we drive in with a hammer, with the head of an iron nail being likened to a hard corn. By the 16th century, the association of -nail with the body’s nails led to a new sense, “an inflammation around a finger- or toenail.” The first element, ang- or ag-, which is akin to Old English enge, “painful,” was no longer understandable. Some speakers altered it to hang-, so that the dominant sense of both hangnail and agnail came to be “loose skin at the root of a fingernail.”

Examples of hangnail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For a guy with a hyperextended knee, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo played like someone who didn't even have a hangnail. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7 July 2021 For the one who can’t be bothered with a nail salon: A manicure kit Everyone, everyone should have a manicure kit to turn to when a hangnail appears or a brow hair grows out of place. Jessica Kasparian, USA TODAY, 22 Oct. 2019 Instead, at a minimum, any player with a hangnail or blister on his thumb is slapped with the questionable tag. Bill Enright, SI.com, 4 Sep. 2019 But the truth is that the MCU has always had hangnails, and its world-building has never made much sense. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, 8 July 2019 Daily wear and tear lead to hangnails and snags, and polish and gel changes can weaken your tips over time. Emily Rekstis, Glamour, 20 Apr. 2019 Rub cuticle oil wherever the skin meets the nail, then use a nail pusher to push back the skin around the nail to get rid of the dead skin that can morph into a hangnail. Donna Bulseco, WSJ, 2 May 2018 Next to the headphone jack, the microUSB port is hidden beneath a push-to-open plastic slot that’s just begging to get ripped off like a hangnail. Christina Bonnington, WIRED, 29 Nov. 2011 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hangnail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of hangnail

1678, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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

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Learn More About hangnail

Time Traveler for hangnail

Time Traveler

The first known use of hangnail was in 1678

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Dictionary Entries Near hangnail

hangment

hangnail

hangnest

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Statistics for hangnail

Cite this Entry

“Hangnail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hangnail. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hangnail

hangnail

noun
hang·​nail | \ ˈhaŋ-ˌnāl How to pronounce hangnail (audio) \

Kids Definition of hangnail

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

hangnail

noun
hang·​nail | \ ˈhaŋ-ˌnāl How to pronounce hangnail (audio) \

Medical Definition of hangnail

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

More from Merriam-Webster on hangnail

Nglish: Translation of hangnail for Spanish Speakers

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