Late Middle English, alteration of whitflaw, the first element coming from either Middle Dutch vijt or Low German fit (“abscess”), borrowed from Latin fīcus (“fig-shaped (ulcer)”), though also influenced by white. The Latin loan also existed in other languages, such as Old English fic (“hemorrhoids”). See flaw.
whitlow (plural whitlows)
- An infection under the cuticle of a fingernail or toenail.
- 1874, Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd:
- 'Twas a bad leg allowed me to read the Pilgrim's Progress, and Mark Clark learnt All-Fours in a whitlow.