Nit-Picking: How the Phrase Relates to Lice Removal and Being Particularly Picky

Health & Medical Blog

Like most people, you have probably heard the term "nit-picking." It is synonymous with someone being extremely picky about how things are done. However, the term did not always mean that. In fact, the origins of the phrase have everything to do with lice removal. Here is how this phrase has come to mean two very different things simultaneously.

Nit-Picking for Lice Removal

Nit-picking used to mean (and still does in some parts of the world), the removal of nits or lice eggs by coming through the hair and looking for the very tiny, silvery nits. Once they are spotted, you have to pinch the nit between your thumb and forefinger and pull it from the hair shaft. While this is still the tried and true and preferred method for lice removal, it is very tedious and time consuming. The process itself requires an almost anal-retentive temperament in order to get all of the nits off of someone's head and thus prevent new lice from hatching. The adult lice may be removed the same way, but you have to catch them first because they can crawl really fast.

By Comparison, Nit-Picking for Very Picky Taskmasters

When you have a boss that is nit-picking everything you do, you can almost envision him or her as someone who would sit for hours picking lice and nits out of your hair. The tedious task of removing lice was recognized  centuries ago as a very detail-oriented chore. Eventually bosses and taskmasters who were very particular about how to do things and made their employees, serfs, and slaves do them again and again were said to be "nit-pickers" and were "nit-picking." Thus lice removal gave rise to a new way of describing someone else's irritating and repetitious behavior.

Nit-Picking in Conversation and the Modern Lice-Removal Option

Now, if you were to discuss nit-picking in conversation, you should probably clarify if someone from another country overhears you. He or she might think you are talking about the process of removing lice by hand and not about your boss, friend, or intimate partner and then avoid you, thinking that you have lice. It may be easier to clarify by adding a sentence about how irritating someone is so that the context of the phrase is not confused. As for actual lice removal, you can skip the nit-picking process and opt to use a shampoo that kills the lice and nymphs and poisons the eggs all at once.


14 December 2016

Allergy Relief: You Have More Options Than You Think

As a child, I used to spend my days roaming through the woods. I climbed trees, smelled the flowers, and laid in the grass looking at the clouds. My love for nature continued through my teen years, but when I turned 23, I began to sneeze whenever I left my home. I could no longer enjoy my outdoor hikes and I started taking antihistamines so I could at least open my windows on warm days. My allergies got worse though and I met with an allergist who completed a variety of skin tests. I started receiving allergy shots and my allergist taught me about natural cleaning processes and sinus rinses. The injections and natural treatments improved my quality of life greatly. Even if you do not want to start allergy injections, you have a variety of options that can lessen your symptoms, and you should learn what these options are.