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runaround n
1 also run-round: A swelling or infection in a finger, esp surrounding the nail. scattered, but chiefly Sth, S Midl, SW See Map Cf ring-around 11857 Knickerbocker 49.97, There comes us a ‘run-round’ on the end of our pen-finger.  a1872 Talmage Sermons (1st ser) 224 NJ, Some hypochondriac with a run-around or a hang-nail. 1899 (1912) Green VA Folk-Speech 361, Runaround. . . A disease of the finger where the inflammation runs around the nail.  1913 London Valley of Moon 352, His finger was hurting too much, he said. . . “It might be a run-around.” 1965–70 DARE (Qu. BB30, . . A hard, painful swelling [often on a finger] that seems to come from deep under the skin) 27 Infs, scattered, but chiefly Sth, S Midl, SW, Runaround; GA89, MS51, SC24, TX18, Runaround—around the (finger)nail; CA87, Felon, runaround, bone felon; ME4, Run-round goes around finger; NM9, Runaround—a big yellow spot that came up and ran around the finger . . removed fingernail; NY64, Felon, runaround—an infection that comes from the corner of the fingernail being infected; SC46, [rʌn raun]; TN16, Runaround—milder than felon; TX32, Runaround—on your nail; UT3, Runaround [about the same as] felon; VA13, Runaround—if around a nail or joint. 1979 Greenfield Recorder (MA) 4 Aug sec A 4, What would an old time “run around” that was a terribly painful infection on one side of a thumb in my grandmother’s case, be called today? She said they used bread poultices . . to bring it to a head. There was a bad scar on one side of her thumb and a disfigured nail.  1997 DARE File, [Query:] I just heard the noun “run-arounds” used to describe cuticle infections. Any one else familiar with this? [Reply:] I’m pretty sure this is the term we used in the early 1940s when I had several of these as a kid between 10 and 12 in Texas. 1999 NADS Letters eTN (as of c1945), Recently, I developed a painful infection around my fingernail, which the doctor diagnosed as paronychia. When I told my mother the symptoms, she said that when she was school aged (in east Tennessee) this infection was called a “runaround.”
2 also run-round; also with the: A skin disease; see quots. Cf ring-around 2
1954 Harder Coll. cwTN, Run (a)round: . . A skin disease, same as ring-(a)round; probably shingles. 1967 DARE FW Addit PA, The runaround—an inflamed face; something like eczema.  1970 DARE (Qu. BB25, . . Common skin diseases around here) Inf NC83, Runaround—a skin disease, oval sores. 2000 NADS Letters NEast, I recall an older woman in hospital once saying she had “the runaround”. I assumed she meant “the runs” but she was referring to the case of shingles which started along her spine and had extended to her abdomen.
3 A temporary dam built around a leak in a levee n1 1a. Cf boil n1 C2, sand boil1923 DN 5.244 LA, Run-arounds. . . Rows of cribbing which are filled with sand bags to close a crevice in the levee. 1941 Percy Lanterns 246 MS, What you do, if you have the gumption of a catfish, is build with sacks of earth a little “run-around”—that is, a small levee around the geyser to the height of its jet. That stabilizes the pressure, and the boil is safe.


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