My mother used to call them "presents". Indeed she had a little rhyme that went:

Present on the finger, Sure to linger. Present on the thumb, Sure to come.

Has anyone else ever heard that? And what do others call them? Is there an everyday term? Leukonychia is the medical name, but it seems far too elaborate to teach to a child.

  • 3
    Uh, "white spots"?? – Hot Licks Jun 1 '20 at 13:56
  • 1
    We used to call them "lie spots" - and check each other's fingers to see who told the most lies. (1960's -'70's US) – Oldbag Jun 1 '20 at 14:28
  • Would the person who voted to close the question have the common courtesy to explain why? – WS2 Jun 1 '20 at 16:42
  • Lincolnshire dialect?. Search without quotes: Present on the finger, Sure to linger. Present on the thumb, Sure to come. Also try searching: white spots on nails folklore – Tinfoil Hat Jun 1 '20 at 21:46
  • @TinfoilHat Thanks, so it mat well be known across the UK. If you would care to post that as an answer I will accept it. – WS2 Jun 2 '20 at 10:50

From Definition.com:

Leukonychia Leukonychia, also known as white nails or milk spots, is a medical term for white discoloration appearing on nails. It is derived from the Greek words leuko and onux. The most common cause is injury to the base of the nail where the nail is formed. It is harmless and most commonly caused by minor injuries that occur while the nail is growing. Contrary to popular belief, leukonychia is not a sign of excess or deficiency of calcium and zinc or other vitamins in the diet. It is more commonly found on fingernails than toenails. There is no effective treatment for leukonychia. However, the white marks and spots gradually disappear as the nail grows outward from the matrix with the nail plate.

  • 1
    Yeah, we used to call them "milk spots" sometimes, too. US – Oldbag Jun 1 '20 at 14:44
  • Had you ever heard them called "presents", @Edwin - and perhaps the rhyme I mentioned? Or is that unique to Norfolk? – WS2 Jun 1 '20 at 16:40
  • Never. And I've never really given them more than a second's thought. Blood blisters, though, I do remember being concerned about, until I discovered they always progressed upnail until they flipped out after a month or so. Unique to Norfolk? I thought that was just Turkysh and windpumps. But there must be equally quirky usages in say Suffolk, the Home Counties .... – Edwin Ashworth Jun 1 '20 at 16:50
  • @EdwinAshworth Well someone's identified a Lincolnshire instance. So perhaps just unique to the east coast. That would be unusual since Lincs belongs culturally and linguistically to the north, while Norfolk has more in common with Hampshire than it does with its neighbours across The Wash. – WS2 Jun 2 '20 at 12:37

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