from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • 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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A loose, narrow strip of nail tissue protruding from the side edge and anchored near the base of a fingernail or toenail.
  • n. A pointed upper corner of the toenail (often created by improperly trimming by rounding the corner) that, as the nail grows, presses into the flesh or protrudes so that it may catch (“hang”) on stockings or shoes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small piece or sliver of skin which hangs loose, near the root of a finger nail.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A small separate piece of hard, partly detached epidermis at the root or side of a nail. Hangnails often persistently renew themselves after they are cut.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a loose narrow strip of skin near the base of a fingernail; tearing it produces a painful sore that is easily infected


Alteration of agnail (influenced by hang).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Corruption of agnail (literally "painful (anguished) nail"), by folk-etymological reanalysis as hang +‎ nail; from Middle English agnail, from Old English angnæġl, from ang- ("tight/painful") + næġl ("nail"). The first component, ang-, is cognate to anguish, anger, and angst, while næġl is the origin of nail. (Wiktionary)



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  • I have them all the time (just not quite as long as in the picture)! They're as painful as they look.

    May 28, 2010

  • Just looking at that picture makes my fingers hurt. Ouch.

    May 27, 2010