Definition of finger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfiNGɡər/


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
More example sentences
  • The hands may be broad with short fingers; the little finger may only have one joint instead of two and be slightly curved.
  • There was some movement in the hand especially the fingers, thumb and little finger.
  • Proceed with moving your ring finger and then your pinky finger toward your thumb.
1.1A part of a glove intended to cover a finger.
Example sentences
  • She was wearing blue calf-length jeans with her stomach exposed and gloves with various coloured fingers.
  • She had black leather gloves on with the fingers cut off and black trousers.
  • In winter we wrap up in scarves and Steptoe-style gloves with the fingers cut out.
1.2A measure of liquor in a glass, based on the breadth of a finger: he poured three fingers of vodka into a juice glass
More example sentences
  • 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.
1.3An object that has roughly the long, narrow shape of a finger: a shortbread finger
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Serve with fingers of toasted sour dough Poilâne bread and thin sticks of crisp vegetables.
  • Serve with toasted fingers of ciabatta, but remember to bring it to room temperature before serving - fridge-cold pâté will not do.


[with object]
1Touch or feel (something) with the fingers: the thin man fingered his mustache
More example sentences
  • I felt a hand touch my hair, fingering it and letting it drop, strand by strand.
  • Gently he fingered several curls that touched his shoulder.
  • He would finger each bag for a minute, touching and stroking, and then finally moving it into a larger plastic bag.
touch, feel, handle, stroke, rub, caress, fondle, toy with, play (around) with, fiddle with
1.1Play (a musical instrument) with the fingers, especially in a tentative or casual manner: a woman fingered a lute
More example sentences
  • ‘I must say, though,’ she said thoughtfully, fingering her violin.
  • 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.
2 informal, chiefly North American Inform on (someone) to the police: you fingered me for those burglaries
More example sentences
  • He was uncovered after his employers fingered him to police over the affair.
  • 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.
  • These rapidly became forays into entrapment of innocent people fingered by prison snitches trying to get their sentences reduced.
2.1 (finger someone for) Identify or choose someone for (a particular purpose): a research biologist with impeccable credentials was fingered for team leader
More example sentences
  • No one wants to be fingered as the person that does it.
identify, recognize, pick out, spot;
inform on, point the finger at
informal rat on, squeal on, tell on, blow the whistle on, snitch on
3 Music Play (a passage) with a particular sequence of positions of the fingers. See also fingering1.
Example sentences
  • Timidly plucking a string, I fingered the lead guitar of ‘Smoke on the Water’.
  • 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.
3.1Mark (music) with signs showing which fingers are to be used.
Example sentences
  • 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

British informal Be clumsy or awkward in one’s actions.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • Hands that saved penalties with ease were all fingers and thumbs at writing.
  • 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.

give someone the finger

North American informal Make an obscene gesture with the middle finger raised as a sign of contempt, meaning ‘fuck you.’.
Example sentences
  • I raised a hand and gave him the finger before walking towards the school building.
  • He was going to junior high school, and he'd always walk in front of my house and give me the finger.
  • The driver nodded, pointed as if to say, ‘Yes, you,’ then emphatically gave us the finger.

have a finger in every pie

Be involved in a large and varied number of activities or enterprises.
Example sentences
  • 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.’
  • They have a finger in every pie, from Columbian drug lords to Caucasian oilfields to the jungles of the Philippines.
  • Indian Americans seem to have a finger in every pie, from Mars to Mass Transit.

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
More example sentences
  • Where are the exciting developments, and who has their finger on the pulse?
  • 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.
  • It is his way of keeping his finger on the pulse, and directors are encouraged to speak freely.

keep one's fingers crossed

see cross.

lay a finger on someone

Touch someone, especially with the intention of harming them.
Example sentences
  • They'll say, lay a finger on me and you're straight in court.
  • ‘They haven't laid a finger on me, yet,’ he smirked.
  • Even though I physically bundled people out the door on a number of occasions, nobody ever laid a finger on me.

lift a finger

see lift.

put one's finger on something

Identify something exactly: he cannot put his finger on what has gone wrong
More example sentences
  • I think they're putting their finger on it because it shows how important personnel really are.
  • 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.

twist (or wind or wrap) someone around one's little finger


work one's fingers to the bone

see bone.



Example sentences
  • At least, after yesterday's shopping expedition, I now have fingerless gloves and a beanie and several jumpers.
  • Then there's his fingerless left hand, a potent reminder of the dangers of living adventurously.
  • I sat inside a sleeping bag with fingerless mittens that allowed me to type.


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

  • Finger is Germanic in origin and the source of many expressions including: point the finger (of scorn) at (early 19th century), the emphatic lay a finger on somebody (mid 19th century), fingers crossed [1920s], and pull one's finger(s) out [1940s].

Words that rhyme with finger

churinga, linger, malinger

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fin·ger

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