Definition of finish in English:


Syllabification: fin·ish
Pronunciation: /ˈfiniSH


[with object]
  • 1Bring (a task or activity) to an end; complete: they were straining to finish the job [with present participle]: we finished eating our meal [no object]: the musician finished to thunderous applause
    More example sentences
    • Co-ordination work has started and a task force will finish a feasibility study for the whole project by the end of this year.
    • After she had finished the required tasks she got right down to work on getting to know the dogs.
    • He added: ‘I definitely want to be a professional musician once I finish my studies.’
    complete, end, conclude, stop, cease, terminate, bring to a conclusion/end/close, wind up; crown, cap, round off, put the finishing touches to; accomplish, discharge, carry out, do, get done, fulfill
    informal wrap up, sew up, polish off
    completed, concluded, terminated, over (and done with), at an end; accomplished, executed, discharged, fulfilled, done
    informal wrapped up, sewn up, polished off
    formal effectuated
  • 1.1Consume or get through the final amount or portion of (something, especially food or drink): finish your fajita while it’s still hot Jerry finished off a margarita
    More example sentences
    • After the meat was finished off, both Silhi and I laid on our backs and looked up at the sky.
    • He was sad to read in the newspapers about a retired high school teacher having to hop from table to table in a food outlet to finish the leftovers on the plates.
    • We discovered that we all had a horror of wasting food, and would finish a dish rather than throw it in the bin.
    consume, eat, devour, drink, finish off, polish off, gulp (down); use (up), exhaust, empty, drain, get through, run through
    informal down
  • 1.2 [no object] (Of an activity) come to an end: the war has finished but nothing has changed
    More example sentences
    • Not only was his season finished, but the future of his playing days was in serious jeopardy.
    • One of them had spent hours working with Sherry in Australia each day after training had finished.
    • Did I mention that I have jury duty coming up straight after the summer semester finishes?
    end, come to an end, stop, conclude, come to a conclusion/end/close, cease
  • 1.3 [no object] (finish with) Have no more need for or nothing more to do with: “I’ve finished with Tom,” Gloria said
    More example sentences
    • Swallow your pride, and ask the people getting off a bus at your stop if they are finished with their day ticket.
    • Conner had to quit his job, finish with Jim, pack up his life, and say goodbye to his friends and family.
    • A return to the workplace can wait; that should still be there when he finishes with athletics, and he is contemplating a degree in design engineering in future.
    leave, give up, drop; stop, discontinue, have done with, complete
    informal pack in, quit
  • 1.4Reach the end of a race or other sporting competition, typically in a particular position: [with complement]: she finished third in the 3-meter springboard diving
    More example sentences
    • Four weeks later he made his competitive debut, finishing 32nd in a race in Austria.
    • Isaac McCann consolidated his overall third place in the under-13 race finishing in third place in 10.25 sec.
    • Emmett ran a good race to finish in fifth place with a ‘Personal Best’ of 4 minutes 2 seconds.
  • 2 (usually be finished) Complete the manufacture or decoration of (a material, object, or place) by giving it an attractive surface appearance: the interior was finished with V-jointed American oak
    More example sentences
    • The fuselage appears to be painted in olive green while the flying surface appears to be finished in silver.
    • Drywall can be difficult for a novice to finish to a smooth surface.
    • Take the same care in cleaning and preparing a surface to be stained as you would in finishing it.
    varnish, lacquer, veneer, coat, stain, wax, shellac, enamel, glaze
  • 2.1Complete the fattening of (livestock) before slaughter.
    More example sentences
    • After each grazing phase was completed, cattle were finished in a western Oklahoma feedlot.
    • He finishes the cattle at the feedlot that he manages.
    • Thus, smaller-scaled feedlots are a more suitable option for finishing Kentucky cattle.
  • 2.2 dated Prepare (a girl) for entry into fashionable society.


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  • 1 [usually in singular] An end or final part or stage of something: a bowl of raspberries was the perfect finish to the meal I really enjoyed the film from start to finish
    More example sentences
    • As the game moved on to day three the stage was set for a close finish on the final day.
    • The whole thing was misconceived from start to finish - if it has a finish.
    • That is what they will be doing now, and they will be doing so from start to finish - with the finish being the most critical and difficult element in the media mix.
    end, ending, completion, conclusion, close, closing, cessation, termination; final part/stage, finale, denouement
    informal sewing up, polishing off
  • 1.1A point or place at which a race or competition ends: he surged into a winning lead 200 meters from the finish
    More example sentences
    • Late Monday evening news travelled through that the race finish had been moved, as most ships had not passed the second waypoint!
    • In 2003 he approached the finish of the race with it all sewn up at odds of 4/11 but came down.
    • The rest of us observe the endurance of the human spirit from the sidelines as they race towards the finish.
    finishing line, finishing post, tape
  • 2The manner in which the manufacture of an article is completed in detail: wide variation in specification and finish
    More example sentences
    • It exhibits the same meticulous detail and refined finish, only varying in the addition of a lapis lazuli stand and in some minor heraldic details.
    • Clearly a labour of love with its attention to detail and cosy finish, it is a perfect lovers' retreat.
    • This stand was second only to that of Ibrox in terms of its architectural finish and detail.
  • 2.1The surface appearance of a manufactured material or object, or the material used to produce this: lightweight nylon with a shiny finish
    More example sentences
    • In a traditional barn, you won't find finishes like drywall or gypsum board.
    • The kitchen is a light, airy space that achieves a sophisticated country look through its combination of materials and finishes.
    • Gloss finishes are shiny and scrubbable, so they are perfect for doors, trim and specialty uses.
    veneer, lacquer, lamination, glaze, coating, covering; surface, texture
  • 2.2The final taste impression of a wine or beer: the wine has a lemony tang on the finish
    More example sentences
    • The mouth-watering finish is more Sauvignon blanc than Chardonnay in style.
    • The palate is an opulent offering of warm and delectable flavors that last long into the impressive finish.
    • This smashing red will not hang around for long either, so if you fancy a gamey, rustic, plummy wine with a seductive, spicy, perfumed finish, move fast.


a fight to the finish

A fight or contest that ends only with the complete defeat of one of the parties involved.
More example sentences
  • I think he'll fight to the finish and will do everything possible to ensure he doesn't get captured.
  • Here again, another little, mini thriller was played out as both teams fought it out to the finish.
  • However, I am proud of the way our whole side performed and stuck in right to the finish.

Phrasal verbs

finish someone off

Kill, destroy, or comprehensively defeat someone.
More example sentences
  • Like a young Ali, he enjoyed taunting his opponents and destroying their will before finishing them off.
  • Did he actually think I was going to be willing to let him kill Mike and finish me off before the night was over?
  • The first two shots weren't enough to kill him so the bullet in the head was to finish him off.

finish up

Complete an action or process: he hadn’t finished up the paperwork on it
More example sentences
  • Just as I was finishing up, two men came in, apparently thinking they were alone.
  • I spent some free time tonight finishing up my own project, the monthly family movie.
  • What do a bunch of tired singers do after finishing up a two-day recording session?
End a period of time or course of action by doing something or being in a particular position: Tony started out running the back elevator and finished up as bell captain we finished up with a plate of meats
More example sentences
  • They talked about the glacial movement of the peace process and the interviewer finished up by asking what he was cooking for dinner.
  • It was fun racing, it was really nice finishing up with this competition but I wanted to win the Tour.


Middle English: from Old French feniss-, lengthened stem of fenir, from Latin finire, from finis 'end'.

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