- a small piece of partly detached skin at the side or base of the fingernail.
Origin of hangnail
Examples from the Web for hangnail
But it did matter to me that I had to dine on this hangnail pared from a sheep.Eating in Two or Three Languages
Irvin S. Cobb
- a piece of skin torn away from, but still attached to, the base or side of a fingernail
Word Origin and History for hangnail
also hang-nail, 1670s, apparently from hang (v.) + (finger) nail, but probably folk etymology from Old English agnail "a corn on the foot, painful spike (in the flesh)" from Proto-Germanic *ang- "compressed, hard, painful" (from PIE *angh- "tight, painfully constricted, painful;" see anger) + Old English nægl "spike" (see nail (n.)).
- A small piece of dead skin at the side or the base of a fingernail that is partly detached from the rest of the skin.