One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Medicine. An inflammation around a toenail or fingernail; a whitlow; the condition of having this.
2Any of various small carpet-forming plants constituting the genus Paronychia (family Illecebraceae), which have minute apetalous flowers in dense axillary clusters almost concealed by large usually silvery stipules; also called whitlow-wort (several species being formerly reputed to cure whitlows); (in form Paronychia) the genus itself.
Late 16th century. From post-classical Latin paronychia whitlow, plant reputed to cure whitlows from ancient Greek παρωνυχία whitlow, in Hellenistic Greek also plant reputed to cure whitlows from παρα- + ὀνυχ-, ὄνυξ nail + -ία. Compare Middle French, French † paronychie whitlow, the plant paronychia, Middle French, French † paronychia the plant paronychia, French † paronique, paronyque.
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