- any of the terminal members of the hand, especially one other than the thumb.
- a part of a glove made to receive a finger.
- the breadth of a finger as a unit of measurement; digit.
- the length of a finger: approximately 4½ inches (11 cm).
- Slang. an informer or spy.
- something like a finger in form or use, as a projection or pointer: a finger of land leading out into the bay; the finger on the speedometer.
- any of various projecting parts of machines.
verb (used with object)
- to touch with the fingers; toy or meddle with; handle.
- to touch with the fingers so as to mar or spoil: Please don’t finger the vegetables.
- to pilfer; filch.
- to play on (an instrument) with the fingers.
- to perform or mark (a passage of music) with a certain fingering.
- to inform against or identify (a criminal) to the authorities: He fingered the man who robbed the bank.
- to designate as a victim, as of murder or other crime.
verb (used without object)
- to touch or handle something with the fingers.
- to extend in or as in the shape of a finger: Landing piers finger out into the river along the city’s shoreline.
- burn one’s fingers, to suffer injury or loss by meddling or by acting rashly: If you get involved in the controversy, you may burn your fingers.
- give (someone) the finger, Slang. to express contempt for by or as by the obscene gesture of pointing the middle finger upward while folding the other fingers against the palm.
- have a finger in the pie,
- to have an interest or share in something.
- to meddle in something.
- keep one’s fingers crossed, to wish for good luck or success, as in a specific endeavor: Keep your fingers crossed that I get the job.
- lay/put one’s finger on,
- to indicate exactly; remember: I know the name, but I can’t put my finger on it.
- to discover; locate: I haven’t been able to lay my finger on the book you requested.
- not lift a finger, to make not even a small attempt; do nothing: The house was falling into ruin, but he wouldn’t lift a finger to repair it.
- put the finger on, Slang. finger(def 12).
- slip through one’s fingers,
- to elude one, as an opportunity not taken; escape: She let the chance of a lifetime slip through her fingers.
- to pass or be consumed quickly: Money just slips through his fingers.
- snap one’s fingers (at), to exhibit disdain or contempt (for): She snaps her fingers at the local gossip.
- twist/wrap around one’s little finger, to exert one’s influence easily or successfully upon: He has a remarkable talent for twisting people around his little finger.
- any of the digits of the hand, often excluding the thumbTechnical name: digitus manus
- (as modifier)a finger bowl
- (in combination)a fingernail Related adjective: digital
- the part of a glove made to cover a finger
- something that resembles a finger in shape or functiona finger of land
- Also called: digit the length or width of a finger used as a unit of measurement
- a quantity of liquid in a glass, etc, as deep as a finger is wide; tot
- a projecting machine part, esp one serving as an indicator, guide, or guard
- burn one’s fingers to suffer from having meddled or been rash
- get one’s finger out or pull one’s finger out British informal to begin or speed up activity, esp after initial delay or slackness
- have a finger in the pie or have one’s finger in the pie
- to have an interest in or take part in some activity
- to meddle or interfere
- lay a finger on (usually negative) to harm
- lay one’s finger on or put one’s finger on to indicate, identify, or locate accurately
- let slip through one’s fingers to allow to escape; miss narrowly
- not lift a finger or not raise a finger (foll by an infinitive) not to make any effort (to do something)
- point the finger at to accuse or blame
- put the finger on informal
- to inform on or identify, esp for the police
- to choose (the victim or location of an intended crime)
- twist around one’s little finger or wrap around one’s little finger to have easy and complete control or influence over
- (tr) to touch or manipulate with the fingers; handle
- (tr) informal, mainly US to identify as a criminal or suspect
- (intr) to extend like a finger
- to use one’s fingers in playing (an instrument, such as a piano or clarinet)
- to indicate on (a composition or part) the fingering required by a pianist, harpsichordist, etc
- (tr; usually passive) to arrange the keys of (a clarinet, flute, etc) for playing in a certain way
early 15c., “to touch or point to with the finger” (but cf. fingering from late 14c.), from finger (n.). Sense of “play upon a musical instrument” is from 1510s. The meaning “identify a criminal” is underworld slang first recorded 1930. Related: Fingered; fingering.
Old English fingor, from Proto-Germanic *fingraz (cf. Old Saxon fingar, Old Frisian finger, Old Norse fingr, Dutch vinger, German Finger, Gothic figgrs), with no cognates outside Germanic; perhaps connected with PIE *penkwe-, the root meaning “five.”
As a unit of measure (Middle English) it represents the breadth of a finger, about three-quarters of an inch. They generally are numbered from the thumb, and named index finger, fool’s finger, leech- or physic-finger, and ear-finger.
- One of the five digits of the hand, especially one other than the thumb.
To hope that nothing will happen to bring bad luck or to ruin one’s plans: “Helen will soon find out whether she got into law school; in the meantime, she is keeping her fingers crossed.”
see cross one’s fingers.
In addition to the idiom beginning with finger
- finger in the pie, have a
- at one’s fingertips
- burn one’s fingers
- cross one’s fingers
- give someone the finger
- lay a finger on
- let slip (through the fingers)
- not lift a finger
- point the finger at
- put one’s finger on
- put the finger on
- snap one’s fingers at
- sticky fingers
- twist around one’s finger
- work one’s fingers to the bone