Resembling shot or pellets of lead, shotgun pellets and, hence, hard and round. The term “shotty” was in use in the 19th century. It is now generally obsolete but it is still in medicinal usage.

Shotty is very commonly used in describing the feel of lymph nodes (the lymph glands) when they are palpated (felt) through the skin. “Shotty” lymph nodes are ones that are not only hard and round but also small and surely of no consequence.

The pustules (the little pockets of pus) in smallpox are said to feel shotty, according to D.A. Henderson, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Smallpox Eradication Unit from its inception in 1966 to 1977. “Smallpox pustules have a dimple, a dent in the center. Doctors say that the pustules have a ‘shotty’ feel, like shotgun pellets. You can roll them between your fingertips under the skin,” Henderson recounted (quoted by Richard Preston in The New Yorker, July 12, 1999).

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