- 1The short, thick first digit of the human hand, set lower and apart from the other four and opposable to them.More example sentences
- The most commonly affected digits are the thumb and index finger.
- This section passes through the four fingers, the thumb having been seen for the last time in the preceding section.
- Using both hands, each testicle should be gently rolled between the thumb and index finger to find any lumps or irregular areas.
- 1.1The corresponding digit of primates or other mammals.More example sentences
- The thumb and toe claws have an extra talon, which is unique in bats.
- The forefeet have 5 digits, but the thumb is reduced in size. The hind feet have five functional digits.
- Its retractable, switchblade-like claws on its thumbs worked as grappling hooks to bring an animal to the ground, Wroe said.
- 1.2The part of a glove intended to cover the thumb.More example sentences
- Put a few drops of peppermint oil on the thumb patches of your gloves, so you can sniff on the fly.
- The top of the thumb is covered with nose friendly fabric so you can swipe away those tickles without rasping your shnoz.
- The thumb part of the glove should fold down underneath the fingers and point down.
verb[with object] Back to top
- 1Press, move, or touch (something) with one’s thumb: as soon as she thumbed the button, the door slid openMore example sentences
- The intercom beeped on a console near the galley and Merlin moved to thumb the control.
- However, at 127 minutes and with a dialogue-heavy middle, some more impatient folk may be thumbing the scan forward button.
- Nakamura fished a cell phone from his pants pocket, and the device chirped as he thumbed the two-way communication button.
- 1.1Turn over (pages) with or as if with one’s thumb: I’ve thumbed my address book and found quite a range of smaller hotels [no object]: he was thumbing through that magazine for the umpteenth timeMore example sentences
leaf, flick, flip, riffle, skim, browse, look
- Anyway, I am thumbing through the friendster pages via a search for ‘Interests: Blading’ in hope of finding some blading kakis.
- But who can deny perusing the headlines, even thumbing through the pages, of the occasional supermarket tabloid while waiting to ring up our groceries?
- After thumbing through a few pages, I was hooked immediately.
- 1.2 (usually be thumbed) Wear or soil (a book’s pages) by repeated handling: his dictionaries were thumbed and ink-stainedMore example sentences
soil, mark, make dog-eared
- I do so love my books, so much so that I couldn't bring myself to read books that had been thumbed a thousand times over.
- The smell and feel of them but books that have been thumbed through by hundreds and gone yellowy don't have quite the same appeal.
- In our own kids' bookshelves, they're the most battered, thumbed and falling-apart books, so often have they been read.
- 1.3Request or obtain (a free ride in a passing vehicle) by signaling with one’s thumb: three cars passed me and I tried to thumb a ride [no object]: he was thumbing his way across FranceMore example sentences
hitchhike• informal hitch, hitch/thumb a ride/lift
- And even if he found out where he was working out in Rio, he couldn't very well thumb a ride out there, could he?
- You could otherwise hope that a friendly soul at the Clachaig will offer a lift, or thumb a ride back: you would be unlucky if no-one stopped.
- Later, while filling his car radiator with water at a service station, he offers a lift to a young woman who is also trying to thumb a ride west.
be all thumbs
- • informal Be clumsy or awkward in one’s actions: I’m all thumbs when it comes to making bowsMore example sentences
- I am not just all thumbs, more all toes.
- You are all thumbs in the kitchen.
- "He's all thumbs, Amelia."
thumb one's nose at
- • informal Show disdain or contempt for.More example sentences
- He had the women, he had the gadgets and he was thumbing his nose at what was considered politically correct at the time.
- Even more significantly, in having married a black woman, Becker seemed to be thumbing his nose at deeply ingrained Aryan idealism.
- Yet instead of pursuing a bi-partisan agenda, he has thumbed his nose at over half of the American population.
thumbs up (or down)
- • informal An indication of satisfaction or approval (or of rejection or failure): plans to build a house on the site have been given the thumbs down by the Department of the Environment[with reference to the signal of approval or disapproval, used by spectators at a Roman amphitheater; the sense has been reversed, as the Romans used 'thumbs down' to signify that a beaten gladiator had performed well and should be spared, and 'thumbs up' to call for his death]More example sentences
rejection, refusal, veto, no, negation, rebuff• informal red lightapproval, seal of approval, endorsement; permission, authorization, consent, yes, leave, authority, sanction, ratification, license, dispensation, nod, assent, blessing, rubber stamp, clearance
- Many watching the march demonstrated their approval by giving a thumbs up or by clapping.
- It would be a pity that this event would not be celebrated and the thumbs up sign has already given it the green light.
- I made my challenge and he accepted it with his version of a thumbs up.
under someone's thumb
- Completely under someone’s influence or control.More example sentences
- ‘You must be really satisfied at how you managed to hook me under your thumb all these years,’ he went on relentlessly.
- Tenali Rama's interpretation: You must not become a shrew but must be so to some extent in order to keep your husband under your thumb.
- Give it a couple of weeks, and The Man will soon stop asking you to do anything, and soon enough you'll have him under your thumb.
- More example sentences
- The pathetic limp body of the non-opposable thumbed mammal slams brutally against the sides of the perspex container with an ear-shattering crack.
- Printed miscellanies were not held in careful reverence - witness the torn pages, the splashes of ink, the thumbed texts.
- He has a keen eye for the strengths of a weaving tradition that goes back 200 years - hence the thumbed notebooks.
- More example sentences
- Pretty soon the clouds lifted and there in front of me were the peaks, soaring like a giant thumbless hand into the clouds.
- He was the one who talked filth to Laura Dern in Wild At Heart and more recently played a thumbless Canadian spy in The English Patient.
- With her fingers inside the thumbless muffs, she couldn't work the snaps, and that was so frustrating!
Old English thūma; related to Dutch duim and German Daumen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin tumere 'to swell'. The verb dates from the late 16th century, first in the sense 'play (a musical instrument) with the thumbs'.