Saturday, February 24Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Nail Clipper in Tagalog? Origin, Designs, and Evolution

Also sometimes called a nail cutter, a nail clipper in Tagalog is called “panggupit ng kuko,” where “gupit” means to cut and “kuko” means fingernails and toenails. This grooming tool is common in every part of the globe, including the Philippines. Its design is somehow different from the nail cutter, but this term is not common in the country. Instead, most Filipinos refer to both of them as “nail cutters.”

nail clipper in Tagalog
Nail cutters in the Philippines

The origin of the nail clipper is not well documented but nail-cutting can be traced back to ancient civilizations. At that time, various methods were used to trim and maintain fingernails and toenails. In ancient Egypt, around 3000 BCE, people used small knives or sharp stones to cut their nails. This practice was not only for personal grooming but also held cultural and religious significance.

Interestingly, nail care and trimming can also represent the social status of a person during the Ming Dynasty in ancient China. People who have short nails tend to do physical labor while those with long nails have much easier jobs. Nail clippers were then made of bronze or iron but the design was far different from what we use today. During the Middle Ages, nail-cutting tools had some small advancements, though.

The modern nail cutter, as we know it today, began to take shape in the latter part of the 19th century. Innovations in steel production and precision engineering led to the creation of more efficient and user-friendly nail clippers. This period also saw the development of nail files and emery boards for shaping and smoothing nails. Patents for different designs of nail clippers also surfaced.

On March 23, 1875; a patent was granted to Valentine Fogerty of Boston, Massachusetts for his invention called finger-nail trimmer. The tool has a cylindrical body with a curved knife at one end and a file at the other end. On May 22, 1877, Richard W. Stewart, also from Boston, was granted a patent for his invention called fingernail cutter. However, the tool looked like an apple peeler.

But on July 26, 1881, a patent for an improved design was granted to Eugene Heim and Oelestin Matz from Ohio. The tool had a pair of nipping jaws composed of a single plate of spring steel. Several other patents were granted to various inventors until the early 1900s. On November 21, 1922, a patent was granted to Chapel S. Carter and Hedley P. Carter for their invention of a fingernail trimmer.

H. C. Cook Machine Company, where Chapel S. Carter became its president, introduced the Gem-brand fingernail clipper to the public in 1928. In 1947, W. E. Bassett Company released a modern design of the nail clipper under the Trim brand. Since then, the nail clipper has evolved until it arrived at a compound lever form, which we now call the nail cutter.

Use panggupit ng kuko in a sentence.


Ang mga batang maliliit ay mahilig magsubo ng daliri nila. Kailangan lagi mong dala ang panggupit ng kuko.


Most toddlers love to bite their fingernails. Make sure you always bring a nail clipper.

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