a small piece of partly detached skin at the side or base of the fingernail.

Compare whitlow.

Origin of hangnail

1300–50; Middle English angenayle corn, Old English angnægl, equivalent to ang- (variant of enge narrow, painful; cognate with German eng, see anger) + nægl callus, nail; modern h- by association with hang
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Examples from the Web for hangnail

Historical Examples of hangnail

British Dictionary definitions for hangnail



a piece of skin torn away from, but still attached to, the base or side of a fingernail

Word Origin for hangnail

C17: from Old English angnægl, from enge tight + nægl nail; influenced by hang
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hangnail in Medicine




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.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.