Definition of finish in English:

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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.
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.


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.
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.
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.
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?
2.1End 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'.

  • finance from Late Middle English:

    The word finance is from Old French, from finer ‘make an end; settle a debt’, from fin ‘end’. The original sense was ‘payment of a debt, compensation, or ransom’, which later developed into ‘taxation, revenue’. Current senses date from the 18th century. Fine (Middle English) in the sense money you pay, comes from the same source and was originally a sum paid to settle a lawsuit, while the other sense of fine, ‘high quality’ leading to ‘thin’, also Middle English, goes back to the earlier sense ‘thoroughly finished’, and lies behind refine (late 16th century), define (Late Middle English), finery (late 17th century), and finesse (Late Middle English). Finish (Middle English) itself goes back to the same root.

Words that rhyme with finish

diminish, Finnish, thinnish

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fin·ish

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