Definition of dead man's fingers in English:

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dead man's fingers

plural noun

1A European colonial soft coral which has spongy lobes stiffened by calcareous spines, said to resemble the fingers of a corpse.
  • Alcyonium digitatum, order Alcyonacea
Example sentences
  • On her dives, Louise is likely to catch sight of lobster, starfish and octopus, as well as plants such as sea cucumbers, dead man's fingers and soft and hard corals.
  • The rocky seabed is covered in jewel anemones, dead man's fingers and hydroids.
  • So far it has been a dive typical of the area, with crawfish, lobsters, clumps of white and yellow dead man's fingers, sea urchins grazing paths across the rocks, and small jewel anemones on any spaces left.
2A fungus that produces clumps of dull black, irregular, finger-like fruiting bodies at the bases of dead tree stumps in Eurasia and North America.
  • Xylaria polymorpha, family Xylariaceae, subdivision Ascomycotina
Example sentences
  • Dead man's fingers, a wood-digesting fungus that produces a variety of different dull-colored club-like fruiting bodies, is most likely not a single species.
  • The dead man's fingers fungus also causes root rot disease.
  • I recall the fungi protruding through the duff: dead man's fingers, jelly babies, coral fungus, and earth tongue.
3 informal The finger-like divisions of a lobster’s or crab’s gills.
Example sentences
  • Next, remove the crab's gills, or dead man's fingers, from the abdomen and throw them away.
  • You end up standing in the kitchen, apron on, hair tied back, getting increasingly, well, crabby, as you pick and shove your way through bones, cartilage and dead man's fingers.
  • Open the crab, remove the 'dead man's fingers' and cut the body into four.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dead man's fin|gers

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