Definition of finger in English:



  • 1Each of the four slender jointed parts attached to either hand (or five, if the thumb is included)

    ‘she raked her hair back with her fingers’
    • ‘As a young boy I had an accident that resulted in the loss of four fingers on my right hand and three on my left hand.’
    • ‘Common warts usually occur on your hands, fingers or near your fingernails.’
    • ‘The arthritis can affect any joints in the body, but generally it affects the most distant joints of the fingers and toes.’
    • ‘Proceed with moving your ring finger and then your pinky finger toward your thumb.’
    • ‘There was some movement in the hand especially the fingers, thumb and little finger.’
    • ‘The hands may be broad with short fingers; the little finger may only have one joint instead of two and be slightly curved.’
    • ‘I've instantly singed the hair from the upper joints of my fingers through misjudgment of these little details.’
    • ‘Keep the ball in the inside of your hand, go through and squeeze the ball with your fingers from little finger through to the thumb and back.’
    • ‘He presses his undamaged left hand with bent fingers and out-stretched thumb onto his chest in a gesture of adoration and self-dedication.’
    • ‘As she approached I held up four fingers and raised my eyebrows questioningly.’
    • ‘Looking back at Tim, he held out his left hand with four fingers up to indicate how many guards were there.’
    • ‘Avoid positions that push your other fingers toward your little finger.’
    • ‘The money was used to buy a pulse oximeter, a hand-held piece of equipment which is attached to an ear lobe or finger and checks lung function quickly and easily.’
    • ‘This painless device shines a reddish glowing light from a sensor attached to a finger or toe and determines how much oxygen is in the blood.’
    • ‘In this test, you bend your thumb across the palm of your hand and bend your fingers down over your thumb.’
    • ‘To illustrate the point, he tapped the left pectoral region of his chest with four fingers.’
    • ‘Call if your child has any injury that makes movement of his arms, legs, fingers, or toes difficult.’
    • ‘For one to two weeks after that, you'll be able to move the top two joints on your fingers, but your knuckles must remain still.’
    • ‘Typically the joints of the fingers and toes are affected, although the back, knees and hips may be too.’
    • ‘It is normal for children to suck their thumbs, their fingers or pacifiers.’
    1. 1.1 A part of a glove intended to cover a finger.
      • ‘In winter we wrap up in scarves and Steptoe-style gloves with the fingers cut out.’
      • ‘Take the gloves, cut off the fingers and push the glove over your wrist and onto your arm.’
      • ‘She had black leather gloves on with the fingers cut off and black trousers.’
      • ‘She was wearing blue calf-length jeans with her stomach exposed and gloves with various coloured fingers.’
      • ‘Sooner or later, I will have to buy some gloves and cut the fingers off so that I can keep typing.’
    2. 1.2 A measure of spirits in a glass, based on the breadth of a finger.
      ‘two fingers of brandy’
      • ‘I dropped ice into the largest glass I could find and poured out about eight fingers of the sweet liquid.’
      • ‘He leaned forward, carefully removed the ice from a glass set before him and them motioned to the waiter to pour in precisely three fingers of Pastis.’
      • ‘If you have 2 or more fingers of drink to allocate they can be distributed between more than one player.’
      dram, small measure, drink, nip, slug, drop, draught, swallow, swig
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    3. 1.3 An object that has roughly the long, narrow shape of a finger.
      ‘a shortbread finger’
      • ‘Serve with toasted fingers of ciabatta, but remember to bring it to room temperature before serving - fridge-cold pâté will not do.’
      • ‘Large fingers of kelp sway and beckon us out to sea.’
      • ‘Individually moulded fingers of sushi rice seemed too formal, so I spread the rice in a thick layer over the banana leaf, and laid generous slices of tuna over it.’
      • ‘Colonies of this bryozoan (Sea Chervil) look like wavy brown fingers of sponge.’
      • ‘Serve with fingers of toasted sour dough Poilâne bread and thin sticks of crisp vegetables.’
      strip, rectangle, sliver, streak, pencil
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[with object]
  • 1Touch or feel with the fingers.

    ‘the thin man fingered his moustache’
    • ‘Gently he fingered several curls that touched his shoulder.’
    • ‘She fingered the thin cloth covering her brother, opening her mouth to speak, and then quickly shutting it as if thinking better of it.’
    • ‘The boy and the dog relish the scamper, but the pedlar fingers his rosary to ward off the threat of a drenching.’
    • ‘He grabbed my hand and fingered the ring he had given me.’
    • ‘Velmon fingered his mustache and thought a moment.’
    • ‘Some of them were fiddling with the ball, while others fingered the handle of the bat, and others just sat with their feet against the gate before them with a tense look on their faces.’
    • ‘I stared at the bible she had laid on my lap and I fingered the worn edges, touched that she had given me her first bible.’
    • ‘With a ‘harumpf’ or two, the judge fingered his walrus type moustache and started to explain.’
    • ‘Søren followed her back into the main room, fingering the thin hair clip he had secured to the cuff of his shirt sleeve.’
    • ‘He would finger each bag for a minute, touching and stroking, and then finally moving it into a larger plastic bag.’
    • ‘‘Your mom hates me,’ Jimmy said skeptically and fingered the door handle of my car, while remaining tense.’
    • ‘Gently, Gabrielle fingered her cheek, but even at the lightest touch it hurt.’
    • ‘Coughing a little as her coffee caught in her throat, she lowered the mug and fingered its handle nervously.’
    • ‘He fingers his thick gold chain as he pauses for a moment.’
    • ‘I felt a hand touch my hair, fingering it and letting it drop, strand by strand.’
    • ‘Reaching out tentatively towards me, he fingered the pair of rings I always wore on a chain around my neck.’
    touch, feel, handle, manipulate, stroke, rub, caress, fondle, toy with, play with, play about with, play around with, fiddle with, twiddle with, maul, meddle with, manhandle, pull, grab
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    1. 1.1 Play (a musical instrument) with the fingers, especially in a tentative or casual manner.
      ‘a woman fingered a lute’
      • ‘All this from a man who can finger a fretboard like nobody's business.’
      • ‘A few days after that fateful jam session, Rocky was sitting at home, fingering his guitar to a tune only he knew.’
      • ‘Rowan could just picture her, her hands fingering the beautiful flute as her eyes scanned the sea.’
      • ‘‘I must say, though,’ she said thoughtfully, fingering her violin.’
      • ‘It's easy to imagine this sort of music being played by a brace of competent but anonymous session musicians with beards and ponytails stroking saxophones and fingering fretless bass guitars.’
  • 2North American informal Inform on (someone) to the police.

    ‘he was fingered by a supergrass and charged with murder’
    • ‘He was identified by name in a New York Times story on Monday, presumably because he was fingered by officials on Sunday.’
    • ‘But that doesn't mean defense attorneys and reformers should resign themselves to a conviction every time a client is fingered by a victim's last words.’
    • ‘He escapes repeatedly, only to be gunned down after he's fingered by a woman friend.’
    • ‘You risk fingering some guy who's your neighbor and a potential advertiser and subscriber.’
    • ‘The rationale for such state rules is that an accomplice has little incentive to testify truthfully, especially if he can cut a deal by fingering someone else.’
    • ‘In his statement, is he essentially accusing the doctor of fingering him?’
    • ‘They have created their own surreal world where criminals are fingered before they commit crimes.’
    • ‘These rapidly became forays into entrapment of innocent people fingered by prison snitches trying to get their sentences reduced.’
    • ‘Over the next month, he tried to find out who had fingered him and what he could do to get his own back.’
    • ‘But again, if the best that the state can do in this case is cite statistics as their basis for fingering him with this crime, it will be a good day for the defense.’
    • ‘He was uncovered after his employers fingered him to police over the affair.’
    • ‘Well, at the end, those people, the prisoners will be able to finger the people who tortured them or badly treated them.’
    • ‘They say reporting suspected illegals over the Web will result in people being mistakenly fingered, or let people with a grudge turn in innocent victims.’
    • ‘Yen knew without a doubt that even if the squeaky clean Don had something to do with it, they'd never be able to finger him.’
    • ‘But going online and fingering him accomplishes nothing.’
    inform, inform against, inform on, act as an informer, tell tales, tell tales on, sneak, sneak on, report, give away, be disloyal, be disloyal to, sell out, stab in the back
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    1. 2.1 Identify or select.
      ‘the additive had been fingered as a possible human health risk’
      • ‘No one wants to be fingered as the person that does it.’
      identify, recognize, single out, pick out, spot, choose, select, point out
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  • 3Music
    Play (a passage) with a particular sequence of positions of the fingers.

    See also fingering
    • ‘The lower oboes are treated as transposing instruments, their parts written to be fingered like treble oboe parts.’
    • ‘Pianist Eddie Heywood deftly fingers the bridge on the last chorus.’
    • ‘By now he was in a huddle with two locals, fingering silent chords while one of them played something softly on a penny whistle.’
    • ‘Timidly plucking a string, I fingered the lead guitar of ‘Smoke on the Water’.’
    • ‘The lead guitarist begins to finger an intricate melody, then turns around to face the audience, a spotlight on him.’
    • ‘Dick used the drum sticks to bang out the notes on the bass, with Tommy fingering the chords on the fret.’
    1. 3.1 Mark (music) with signs showing which fingers are to be used.
      • ‘The majority of these pieces, the Twelve Impressions, were fingered and edited by Kreisler, to whom the pieces were dedicated.’
      • ‘Other pianists cringed when I shared Nagy's fingering suggestions for splitting a difficult passage between two hands.’


  • be all fingers and thumbs

    • informal Be clumsy or awkward in one's actions.

      • ‘I seemed to be all fingers and thumbs and dropped things right, left and centre.’
      • ‘We've didn't want another flip phone because when it rings we're all fingers and thumbs and can't get it open quick enough after spending ages trying to get it out of the handbag.’
      • ‘Scooping up the warm rice and hot pickle by hand feels natural enough till it gets to my mouth; then I am all fingers and thumbs, bits of curry-stained rice dropping into my lap, and still so obviously, embarrassingly, a tourist.’
      • ‘Hands that saved penalties with ease were all fingers and thumbs at writing.’
      • ‘Wigan were surprisingly all fingers and thumbs at times in their first home game of the new campaign.’
      clumsy, awkward, maladroit, inept, bungling, bumbling, incompetent, unskilful, heavy-handed, all thumbs, ungainly, inelegant, inexpert, graceless, ungraceful, gauche, unhandy, uncoordinated, gawky, cloddish, clodhopping
      clumsy, awkward, maladroit, inept, bungling, bumbling, incompetent, unskilful, heavy-handed, ungainly, inelegant, inexpert, graceless, ungraceful, gauche, unhandy, uncoordinated, gawky, cloddish, clodhopping
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  • get (or pull) one's finger out

    • informal Stop hesitating or wasting time and start to act.

      • ‘But if you don't pull your finger out, expulsion is on the cards.’
      • ‘Having said that, my desk is piling up with work and the mailbox is getting full… suppose I will have to pull my finger out.’
      • ‘But let's remember the important part of the equation, which this is really about our children pulling their finger out and doing something special for their fathers.’
      • ‘I'm annoyed at myself for not getting my finger out in time, although I did actually receive the paperwork on the day before the deadline, as it turns out - so the chances of getting in were pretty low anyway.’
      • ‘The Government should pull their finger out and make a decision about this issue.’
      • ‘It was nice food but it was such a long wait, and we think it was only because my mother started fingering her car keys that they pulled their finger out and got us our meal.’
      • ‘We had to call them five times before they finally pulled their finger out and couriered the stuff over here.’
      • ‘The council need to pull their finger out and spend money on cameras now.’
      • ‘If I'd got my finger out and done my return earlier, I could have had it taken from my tax code and paid in small amounts through the year.’
      • ‘Moving so near The Valley made me pull my finger out and start going to the football too.’
      make a start, begin, make a beginning, take the first step, lay the first stone, make the first move, get going, go ahead, set things moving, take something forward, buckle down, buckle to, turn to, put one's shoulder to the wheel, put one's hand to the plough, get the ball rolling, set the ball rolling, start the ball rolling
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  • get one's fingers burned/burnt (or burn one's fingers)

    • (especially in a financial context) suffer unpleasant consequences as a result of one's actions, discouraging one from trying a similar action again.

      • ‘It might create a false market in the company's shares, causing investors to get their fingers burnt.’
      • ‘Takeway owners in Preston and South Ribble could get their fingers burnt following an overhaul of the licensing laws.’
      • ‘Many of those who got their fingers burned remain on the sidelines and most of the established venture capital companies no longer invest in early stage companies, preferring to wait until they have a more stable track record.’
      • ‘It should come as no surprise to them when they get their fingers burnt.’
      • ‘This means that even if some people do end up getting their fingers burned in this sector, they are unlikely to destabilise the whole market.’
      • ‘Sometimes, when people are very trusting and open, they get their fingers burned.’
      • ‘He got his fingers burnt in a patisserie venture at the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex.’
      • ‘‘There are too many uncertainties at this stage and people could end up getting their fingers burned,’ he said.’
      • ‘Forecasters got their fingers burned last weekend when they predicted a scorcher and all we got was wind, rain and cloud.’
      • ‘This is no solace to ordinary people who've got their fingers burned in the stock market.’
  • give someone the finger

    • informal Make a gesture with the middle finger raised as an obscene sign of contempt.

      • ‘I called giving Travis the finger before I closed the door.’
      • ‘I responded by giving him the finger, before collapsing on my bed once more and drawing the blankets on top of me.’
      • ‘I raised a hand and gave him the finger before walking towards the school building.’
      • ‘Dreyden shrugged brushed it off, politely giving him the finger.’
      • ‘He was going to junior high school, and he'd always walk in front of my house and give me the finger.’
      • ‘Yes, I was doing push-ups with one arm, all the while giving them the finger.’
      • ‘The driver nodded, pointed as if to say, ‘Yes, you,’ then emphatically gave us the finger.’
      • ‘I yelled over my shoulder, giving him the finger.’
      • ‘‘Process this,’ I retort, giving him the finger.’
      • ‘I glanced over my shoulder to see him still standing there, his face entirely straight, yet at the same time calmly giving me the finger.’
  • have a finger in every pie

    • Be involved in a large and varied number of activities or enterprises.

      • ‘They had a finger in every pie in their former colony and their atomic energy commission controlled the country's mines.’
      • ‘He has a finger in every pie - dance, karathe, spiral sword, origami, mimicry, silambam, painting and acting.’
      • ‘I know you have a finger in every pie, my friend.’
      • ‘His thumbprint is everywhere; he had a finger in every pie.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It has been characteristic of the company as long as anyone can remember that it has had to have a finger in every pie.’’
      • ‘Indian Americans seem to have a finger in every pie, from Mars to Mass Transit.’
      • ‘This may have been true in the days of the licence-permit raj, when the government had a finger in every pie.’
      • ‘They have a finger in every pie, from Columbian drug lords to Caucasian oilfields to the jungles of the Philippines.’
      • ‘But Nicholas, despite an almost maniacal attachment to the idea of duty and zeal, was only human; he insisted on having a finger in every pie but had only ten fingers like everybody else.’
      • ‘His daughter-in-law explained: ‘Chris was a real live wire and had a finger in every pie.’’
  • have a finger in the pie

    • Be involved in a matter, especially in an annoyingly interfering way.

      • ‘After all, why should my boss (and for people working in government agencies the ‘boss’ is often the state) have a finger in the pie?’
      • ‘‘I have no doubt that someone in the institution has a finger in the pie,’ he said.’
      • ‘No doubt the Ministry of Health has had a finger in the pie.’
  • have (or keep) one's finger on the pulse

    • Be aware of all the latest news or developments.

      ‘he keeps his finger on the pulse of world music’
      • ‘We are going to talk about it with two sports hosts who have their finger on the pulse of the fans.’
      • ‘At one time, I had this reputation for having my finger on the pulse, of knowing what people wanted.’
      • ‘Between them they have their finger on the pulse of contemporary customers.’
      • ‘I much prefer to have my finger on the pulse and know what's going on.’
      • ‘Where are the exciting developments, and who has their finger on the pulse?’
      • ‘We continue to keep our finger on the pulse regarding a quality and diverse range of programming which meets the needs of the vast majority of listeners and this has been proven by our ever increasing listenership results.’
      • ‘It is his way of keeping his finger on the pulse, and directors are encouraged to speak freely.’
      • ‘And I also think that Jeff Zuker, our executive producer, is really brilliant and quite good at sort of predicting or keeping his finger on the pulse and figuring out what is going to be interesting - what's going to be hot.’
      • ‘Now that I've been out of Britain for nearly 4 years, my view of the politics there has become somewhat two-dimensional and I no longer feel I have my finger on the pulse of daily life.’
      • ‘Over 265 million is traded daily on the Irish Stock Exchange's equities market and there are many investors out there who want to keep their finger on the pulse regarding share performance and potential deals.’
  • lay a finger on someone

    • Touch someone, especially with the intention of harming them.

      • ‘‘They wouldn't dare lay a finger on you in Higgins's yard,’ Conall assured her, practically reading her mind, ‘I, on the other hand would be in serious trouble.’’
      • ‘Rich continued, ‘And thirdly, you're a pretty girl, if one of these boys so much lays a finger on you without your consent they will have hell to pay.’’
      • ‘‘They haven't laid a finger on me, yet,’ he smirked.’
      • ‘Smiling shyly, I said, ‘Even if you were to attack, Chesare would have you by the throat before you could lay a finger on me.’’
      • ‘Even though I physically bundled people out the door on a number of occasions, nobody ever laid a finger on me.’
      • ‘They'll say, lay a finger on me and you're straight in court.’
      • ‘I love you; call me if she ever lays a finger on you.’
      • ‘The mere thought of that psychopath laying a finger on her at all made him cringe and shiver all over.’
      • ‘You tell Danny that if he so much as lays a finger on you, I'll snap him in half like a twig.’
      • ‘She had better not lay a finger on him or she'll have to deal with me!’
  • put the finger on

    • informal Inform against (someone) to the authorities.

      • ‘Let's help the organisation to put the finger on these lunatics before they kill somebody.’
      • ‘I'm not trying to put the finger on the company, by the way; I know there are other similar programs.’
      • ‘Maybe Grey simply blamed Toni to get herself out of trouble after Marshal and Everett turned it disagreed with her over my evaluation and put the finger on Toni.’
      • ‘What is going on is that it now appears, at least appears, that one assistant is putting the finger on another?’
      • ‘This is someone allegedly within the party who put the finger on a political opponent to make political points.’
      • ‘Why does he feel the need to put the finger on us?’
      denounce, give away, betray, incriminate, inculpate, report, tell the authorities about, tell the police about
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  • put something on the long finger

    • Postpone consideration of something; put something off.

      ‘don't put retirement planning on the long finger’
      • ‘It had been his intention to renovate the cottage but had kept ‘putting it on the long finger’.’
      • ‘We always wanted to get married and we had thought about going down the route of Eileen getting a divorce but we put it on the long finger.’
      • ‘In an Irish context some of the American companies we would deal with are putting projects on the long finger.’
      • ‘I realise that I still owe Niall twenty quid, but that can wait - he's happy to put such things on the long finger.’
      • ‘The road was mooted as far back as the early 1980s but it was put on the long finger for many years and was only revived in the late 1990s following a period of intensive political lobbying’
      • ‘Those who put payments on the long finger can look forward to receiving monthly calls from the nice Visa or Mastercard lady.’
      • ‘With the help of a fairy godmother-like CEO (chief effectiveness officer), the manager finally comes to appreciate how putting things on the long finger results in poor-quality work and unnecessary stress.’
      • ‘If a problem of any kind arises parents should share this with the teacher and not put it on the long finger.’
      • ‘There are a few vacant slots currently available between 6.00 and 10.00 p.m. nightly so don't put it on the long finger as it's a case of first come, first served.’
      • ‘But then rather than try to sort their debts, they tend to put them on the long finger.’
  • put one's finger on something

    • Identify something exactly.

      ‘he cannot put his finger on what has gone wrong’
      • ‘I guess in a way that's why I'm finding it a bit of a challenge as to what to do next, because I really want to do something that's a bit different, and I can't quite put my finger on it yet.’
      • ‘Howard, I think you've put your finger on something.’
      • ‘You can't put your finger on it, but there's something special about the place.’
      • ‘The funny thing was I kind of walked past her, and slowed down, because I thought I recognised her as someone I knew, but couldn't quite put my finger on it.’
      • ‘Thanks, Jack, I think you've put your finger on it.’
      • ‘Sometimes we can feel we've bitten off more than we can chew… we feel trapped… it's like there's something right there, but we can't quite put our finger on it.’
      • ‘You start to figure out all the characters have some sort of connection but you can't put your finger on it.’
      • ‘I think they're putting their finger on it because it shows how important personnel really are.’
      • ‘‘All across the political spectrum,’ says Fred Siegel, a history professor, ‘there is just an uneasiness, a sense that something is happening, though people can't put their finger on it.’’
      • ‘They were a very accomplished stage presence which played well, the music was good, but it lacked a certain something, I can't quite put my finger on it.’
  • snap (or click) one's fingers

    • Make a sharp clicking sound by bending the last joint of the middle finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it, typically in order to attract attention in a peremptory way or to accompany the beat of music.

      • ‘Steph suddenly stopped and snapped her fingers.’
      • ‘He followed me around, snapping his fingers and making sounds as if calling a puppy.’
      • ‘They watched cartoons in silence for a few moments until Chris suddenly snapped his fingers and stood up.’
      • ‘Noel watched her intently and suddenly snapped his fingers right in front of her face.’
      • ‘The sound is tight, polished and overall very slick, right down to the backing vocalists (you can just visualise them clicking their fingers to the beat with wide smiles on their immaculately groomed faces).’
      • ‘I snapped my fingers thinking a sound could jolt her attention.’
      • ‘I do wish though that he would not loudly click his fingers to the music during this.’
      • ‘I step over toward Dann, snapping my fingers for attention.’
      • ‘He looked at me for a moment in utter confusion, then snapped his fingers as if he suddenly realised who I was.’
      • ‘Nicolas suddenly snapped his fingers in front of my face, startling me back into reality.’


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vinger and German Finger.