I heard it said that you could tell if someone had lied recently by looking at their fingernails. White spots indicated lies, with supposedly bigger spots indicating bigger lies. I've observed white spots (and damage to the nails) moves away from the lunula at a fairly steady rate... if there was any truth (sorry) to the suggestion then you could also determine approximately how long ago the lie took place based on it's distance from the lunula.

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    Easy enough to test: go lie to someone, and then check your nails... BTW: this source seems to indicate that a white spot foretells receipt of a gift! But perhaps that too is a lie...
    – Shog9
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 19:01
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    It's complete and utter nonsense so stupid that I doubt there is any serious study into it.
    – Lagerbaer
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 19:38
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    The medical term is Leukonychia
    – Oliver_C
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 19:40
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    I have invented a perpetual motion machine which cures cancer! Also, John Edward is not the biggest douche in the universe. Nope. Nothing yet. Commented May 19, 2011 at 12:38
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    Apparently I have been lying contiinously for the last 10 years after I smashed my finger... or have I..?
    – RomaH
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


According to the straight dope the white spots (also called leukonychia) are:

The precise cause of leukonychia is a mystery. It's said to be more common in the young and in women, and often shows up when the body undergoes stress or trauma, such as a blow to the fingertips. Excessive manicuring can make things worse; so can working in a pickle factory, of all things.

The site lists many other causes of these white spots which are much more worrisome. However, getting gifts or lying is NOT amongst the causes.

WiseGeek agrees:

If you notice white spots, also known as leukonychia, on your nails, they unlikely to have been caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency. In a few cases, white spots on fingernails can indicate an underlying infection, but much more commonly, they are the result of injury.

HealthGuidance explains more:

The appearance of these white spots can be a result of a possible injury to the base of the nail, which is called as the matrix. Usually, these injuries would have occurred in the past, but the white spot on the fingernail takes time to appear. By the time that this white spot makes an appearance, you would have forgotten about the injury. A normal banging of the finger on the door or the countertop can result in the injury and the occurrence of white spot on the fingernail.

Again, nothing about lies or gifts. And just because we don't know exactly how something happens, is no reason to accept whatever made up outlandish tale someone comes up with....

  • Is there also an "old wives tale" about them being connected to gifts? I'd be curious to know more about it if you could point me in the right direction.
    – aslum
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:09
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    I remember being told a while back it was a possible sign of a Zinc deficiency, never tried to validate that. It seemed like a reasonable explanation at the time.
    – Ardesco
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 22:08
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    @aslum here is a link about many superstitions, one of which is about receiving gifts: chestofbooks.com/fairy-tale/Kentucky-Superstitions/… Commented May 19, 2011 at 10:30

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