The Five Inch Fingernail Lady

Informant Information – GD

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 57
  • Occupation: Teacher
  • Residence: San Pedro, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant first heard this story at a sleepover with several friends as a child in the late 1960s. She shared this information with me in an in-person interview.


The Five Inch Fingernail Lady could supposedly be heard scratching at windows. We would tell this story at sleepovers, and we had a scary ending that we told each other and a funny ending that we told to younger siblings. The story goes: 

One night, when a teenage girl was home all alone, she thought she heard a sound at her bedroom window. At first, she ignored it, but as she walked to the window she realized that someone was scratching at it. She crept up to the window very slowly because she was afraid. Suddenly, she threw back the curtain, but no one was there!

Then, she heard the same sound, but now it was coming from inside the kitchen! She ran to the kitchen to investigate. 

So the funny ending goes: She ran into the kitchen and found a lady with long, long fingernails. Five INCH fingernails! And with those fingers with long, sharp fingernails… She was eating chips that she found in the kitchen! She was just a ghost looking for a snack! 

The scary ending goes: She ran into the kitchen and found a terrifying monster with sharp teeth and long, pointed fingernails that were dripping with blood. She chased down the girl, grabbing her with her long, pointed, claw-like fingernails and ate her with her sharp, pointed teeth… I guess she was looking for a snack in this version, too.


It’s very interesting that this story has two alternative endings that are specifically designated for different age groups. It makes a lot of sense, given that this is a story meant to be told at sleepovers and parties– events that should be fun and enjoyable. I can understand using a sillier version of the story to make sure that telling and listening to the story remains fun, rather than actually upsetting.