What do you call the hardened skin on the palms of your hands?

a_menudo

Banned
Polish
Hi,
When you work physically using a hammer or a similar tool, the area on the palms of your hands right under fingers tends to harden due to friction. What are they called? I have found the term "corn" but that seems to be reserved for feet only. Or not really? Can they be used for hands as well? Do you ever use the term "callus" for it?
 
  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    Absolutely, callus is the right term

    He had callused hands from sawing so much wood.

    Her hands were covered in calluses.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    For the adjective, I'm more used to the spelling callous and calloused. The dictionary I consulted accepts the spelling with and without the <o>.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    For the adjective, I'm more used to the spelling callous and calloused. The dictionary I consulted accepts the spelling with and without the <o>.
    As I learned it - and this may be just me, or it may be a US thing - "callus/callused" refers to the physical condition that a_menudo asked about, and "callous" refers to emotional insensitivity.
     

    a_menudo

    Banned
    Polish
    I'd venture a guess that this difference is universal in the English speaking world; at least both in BrE and AmE. I just looked up these words in a Polish-British dictionary and it makes that distinction.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese

    a_menudo

    Banned
    Polish
    For the record, Google's dictionary, which I've noticed draws from Oxford, defines "callous" as a variant spelling of "callus".
     

    Juhasz

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    As I learned it - and this may be just me, or it may be a US thing - "callus/callused" refers to the physical condition that a_menudo asked about, and "callous" refers to emotional insensitivity.
    That's a pretty strange transformation, since both words seem to mean the same thing, albeit perhaps figurative in one case, if you understand a callous person to have a callused heart.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    That's a pretty strange transformation, since both words seem to mean the same thing, albeit perhaps figurative in one case
    Same origin, yes; partially shared concept, perhaps; but I wouldn't consider "hardened skin" and "emotional insensitivity" as being the same meanings (even figuratively)!

    It's no more strange a 'transformation' than the different spellings of "plane" and "plain" (same origin, partially shared concept, distinctly different meanings). That spelling distinction dates from the early 17th century, and I can't see anyone thinking it strange these days. The callus(ed)/callous distinction seems well on its way to becoming just as established (if only we can get Nat on side:D).

    Ws
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'd never really thought about it before but I wasn't even aware that callus and callous were related, let alone the same word.

    Flower and flour is another one of these: I was about 38½ when I learnt they were the same word:confused:
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks, veli. :) I'd been beginning to wonder if I had recalled what I had read correctly. It's also clear that you don't like Johnston's sentence ('lives were spent in the repetition of the rosary until their fingers were callous with the feel of the beads').

    If you look at Ngrams for calloused/callused heart, calloused is about 4 times as common as callused.

    There are a number of words that we think of as separate because of later spelling distinctions. Think of stayed and staid for instance.
     
    Last edited:

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I'm with nat on this one. I was surprised to see the other opinions. "Calloused hands" are still holding their own, according to this Ngram result. "Callused hands" is a brash newcomer.
    Are you also with Nat on this one, Veli? ...
    The (predicative) adjective is callous.
    ... lives were spent in the repetition of the rosary until their fingers were callous with the feel of the beads. (William Johnston, Christian Zen (1997))
    For some reason (perhaps because I've sometimes seen it), I'm less surprised by calloused than I would be by callous as a noun. That seems to be borne out by this ngram, which shows calluses way ahead of callouses, both now and long ago. But I definitely stop in my tracks when I read "their fingers were callous" — I have an image of fingers treating the beads with a lack of concern and respect!:rolleyes:
    (The phrase "with the feel" also seems odd there. If the adjective callous means the same as calloused, I'd expect to see "from feeling the beads".
    )

    Ws
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top