Thursday, 3 January 2008

hangnail and anxious

The Proto-Indo-European root is *h₂enǵh- "tight, painfully constricted, painful". This became Proto-Germanic *anǥ- "compressed, hard, painful". In Old English, this combined with nægl "nail" (from PIE *h₃nogh- "nail, claw") to form angnail, which, influenced by the word hang, changed thru folk etymology to hangnail.

In Latin, the root became angō "to torment", then ānxius. This was borrowed into English as anxious probably in the 1600s.

2 comments :

Jon Boy said...

Interesting. I already knew about the anger/anxious/angst/anguish connection, but not about hangnail.

Glen Gordon said...

These etymological connections are always entertaining because, for many individuals, hangnails can indeed cause anxiety, anger or even anguish, depending on one's character.