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Latin unguis (nail, claw, hoof). Doublet of onyx.


unguis (plural ungues or unguises)

  1. (zoology) The nail, claw, talon, or hoof of a finger, toe, or other appendage.
  2. One of the terminal hooks on the foot of an insect.
  3. (botany) The slender base of a petal in some flowers; a claw; an ungula.
  4. (historical) An old measure equal to the length of the nail of the little finger.

Derived terms[edit]

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for unguis in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913)



From Proto-Italic *ungus, from Proto-Indo-European *h₃negʰ-. Cognates include Ancient Greek ὄνυξ (ónux), Old Irish inga, Sanskrit नख (nakhá, claw, nail), Old Armenian եղունգն (ełungn), Old Church Slavonic ногъть (nogŭtĭ), Lithuanian nagas, Persian ناخن(nâxon), Albanian nyell, and Old English næġl (English nail).



unguis m (genitive unguis); third declension

  1. (anatomy) fingernail, toenail
  2. talon, claw
    • 8 CE, Ovid, Fasti 2.257:
      iamque satur nigrīs longum rapit unguibus hydrum
      And now, having eaten his fill [of figs], [the raven] snatches up a long water-snake in his black talons.
  3. hoof


Third-declension noun (i-stem, ablative singular in -e or occasionally ).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative unguis unguēs
Genitive unguis unguium
Dative unguī unguibus
Accusative unguem unguēs
Ablative ungue
Vocative unguis unguēs

Derived terms[edit]


  • Sicilian: ugnu
  • English: unguis (learned)


  • unguis”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • unguis”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • unguis in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette