Toe Nails

A double-header:

  1. What are toenails really good for anyhow?

  2. Why is toe-nailing called that?

Ray (No, my hammer did not slip, and I am clear on the concept of #2.)

Toenails cut and snag your socks, wearing a hole in them in a couple of months. This helps support the sock manufacturing industry.

Doctors depend on you not knowing how to cut your toenails properly, thus ending up with ingrown toenails, that require removal by trained professionals such as themselves. So you’re sending a doctor on yet another golf outing, too.

Well, I’m not so clear on it. I’ve never heard of “toe-nailing” as a verb. What are you talking about?

To toe-nail means: “to fasten by toed nails” according to Merriam-Webster. Duh. So what’s a “toed nail”? To toe means “to drive (as a nail) obliquely” (date: 1900)

As for how toe came to mean to drive a nail obliquely, I don’t know…

Well considering a lot of the toe nailing I’ve done is framing buildings and toe nailing 2x4s into the floor, maybe the originator of the phrase hit his toe with the hammer. Often you’re holding the backside of the 2x4 on the mark with your foot, I suppose he could’ve nailed through the 2x4 into his toe if he used the wrong angle of entry. It seems like this would have led to a much different description though like, toe-fu#$ed nailing.

Does anyone enjoy biting their toenails?


Actually, I misspelled the verb ‘toenail’ by putting a dash in it, and others here misspelled it by making it two words.

Apparently the verb ‘to toenail’ was suggested by the expression ‘to toe out’ as describing how toes fan out at angles – i.e., to pound nails toed out at an angle. Actually, the top surface of a foot angles out downward, but my toes extend rather in parallel. Dunno if that nails things down enough.

As for the value of toenails, the comments were pretty much on mark, I’d say. Cristi is close, but I find the score a bit different. I don’t think ingrown toenails have much to do with their owners cutting the nails wrong; I think that’s mostly an old physician’s tale associated with the profession’s blame-the-patient tactic. When I was a teen-ager, I had an ingrown toenail. My mother sent me to an MD who kept trimming it, shining a UV light on it, and daubing gentian violet solution on it. The condition never changed one iota. When in my twenties, I went to a podiatrist who cut part of the nail’s root out. After that, the nail never looked quite standard, but it never once thereafter became infected. I agree with the “golf outing” factor but not the “trained professional” description. Trained to get the bucks maybe, but not to fix anything. (Actually my mother decided not to pay his last bill.)

Actually, as an older adult, from hiking and running a lot, I guess, I acquired fungus in my toenails, which has steadily gotten worse. I tried to get a VA podiatrist recently to apply one of the two newer prescription medications. He insisted I had to get a positive lab test for a fungus before we would prescribe the medicine at the VA’s expense, because it’s rather expensive. So clippings of the nails were sent to two VA labs in succession and both came out negative for any fungus. An outside podiatrist says that, of course, it’s nail fungus and wouldn’t require an test, since I would be paying the cost of the medication. Well, I don’t have the cash. . .and outside labs require a podiatrist to have an account with them, and a VA podiatrist is not going to get an account with an outside lab when the VA has its own labs, no matter they don’t work. So whaddaya do? And what does the fungus do when it runs out of nails? Eat toes? Or find another host/victim?

But functionally, why do I need the nails in the first place anyhow? Are they just vestiges of claws that lower animals had uses for, but I don’t? Like there are no blackboards at the level of my feet on which to scrape with them. Well, yeah, if I were female, they support different colors showing through open-toed shoes, I suppoes. (Reminds me, I saw a woman with brown fingernail polish the other day. What exactly is that supposed to tell me? That she sticks her fingers into a manure pile?) Just can’t think of a use for toenails. Perhaps one can make interesting sculptures, mobiles or necklaces out of their clippings.

As for biting them, at 68, I can’t get my big toes any closer to my mouth than 5"; but I was never into biting any nails.

Ray (Toenail or not toenail? That is no ingestion.)

Nano - try tea tree oil for your toenails - it’s reputed to have anti-fungal properties.

Where would I go to get tea tree oil?


They’re not Hot Flashes,
They’re Power Surges!

Health food stores, sometimes the vitamin section of the grocery or drug store, with the rest of the herbal stuff.

Toenails, like fingernails, serve a very useful purpose. If the last joint of your fingers or toes encounter something very sharp that is about to lop off, or slice into, the tip of that member, the toenail or fingernail will often slow down the cutting action for the brief split second required for your reflexes to act and whip the hand or foot away. Our hunter-gatherer and agricultural ancestors were probably helped by these protective shields to get through life with minimal loss of useful digits.