Definition of finger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɪŋɡə/


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.
thumb, index finger, forefinger, first finger, middle finger, ring finger, little finger;
North American  pinkie
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 spirits in a glass, based on the breadth of a finger: two fingers of brandy
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.
strip, rectangle, sliver, streak, pencil


[with object]
1Touch or feel with the fingers: the thin man fingered his moustache
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, manipulate, stroke, rub, caress, fondle, toy with, play (about/around) with, fiddle with, twiddle with, maul, meddle with, manhandle, pull, grab;
put one's hands on, lay a finger on
informal paw, mess
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: he was fingered by a supergrass and charged with murder
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.
2.1Identify or select: the additive had been fingered as a possible human health risk
More example sentences
  • No one wants to be fingered as the person that does it.
identify, recognize, single out, pick out, spot, choose, select, point out;
inform on, denounce
informal point the finger at, grass on, rat on, squeal on, tell tales about, tell on, blow the whistle on, spill the beans about, sell down the river, snitch on, peach
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.
clumsy, awkward, maladroit, inept, bungling, bumbling, incompetent, unskilful, heavy-handed, ungainly, inelegant, inexpert, graceless, ungraceful, gauche, unhandy, uncoordinated, gawky, cloddish, clodhopping
informal butterfingered, cack-handed, ham-fisted, ham-handed
British informal all fingers and thumbs

get (or pull) one's finger out

British informal Stop hesitating or wasting time and start to act.
Example sentences
  • Moving so near The Valley made me pull my finger out and start going to the football too.
  • But let's remember the important part of the equation, which this is really about our children pulling their finger out and doing something special for their fathers.
  • It was nice food but it was such a long wait, and we think it was only because my mother started fingering her car keys that they pulled their finger out and got us our meal.

get one's fingers burned/burnt (or burn one's fingers)

(Especially in a financial context) suffer unpleasant consequences as a result of one’s actions, discouraging one from trying a similar action again.
Example sentences
  • This is no solace to ordinary people who've got their fingers burned in the stock market.
  • He got his fingers burnt in a patisserie venture at the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex.
  • Takeway owners in Preston and South Ribble could get their fingers burnt following an overhaul of the licensing laws.

give someone the finger

North American informal Make a gesture with the middle finger raised as an obscene sign of contempt.
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 a finger in the pie

Be involved in a matter, especially in an annoyingly interfering way.
Example sentences
  • After all, why should my boss (and for people working in government agencies the ‘boss’ is often the state) have a finger in the pie?
  • ‘I have no doubt that someone in the institution has a finger in the pie,’ he said.
  • No doubt the Ministry of Health has had a finger in the pie.

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.

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.

put the finger on

informal Inform against (someone) to the authorities.
Example sentences
  • Let's help the organisation to put the finger on these lunatics before they kill somebody.
  • What is going on is that it now appears, at least appears, that one assistant is putting the finger on another?
  • Maybe Grey simply blamed Toni to get herself out of trouble after Marshal and Everett turned it disagreed with her over my evaluation and put the finger on Toni.

put something on the long finger

Irish Postpone consideration of something; put something off: don’t put retirement planning on the long finger
More example sentences
  • It had been his intention to renovate the cottage but had kept ‘putting it on the long finger’.
  • But then rather than try to sort their debts, they tend to put them on the long finger.
  • I realise that I still owe Niall twenty quid, but that can wait - he's happy to put such things on the long finger.

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.

snap (or click) one's fingers

Make a sharp clicking sound by bending the last joint of the middle finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it, typically in order to attract attention in a peremptory way or to accompany the beat of music.
Example sentences
  • He followed me around, snapping his fingers and making sounds as if calling a puppy.
  • He looked at me for a moment in utter confusion, then snapped his fingers as if he suddenly realised who I was.
  • The sound is tight, polished and overall very slick, right down to the backing vocalists (you can just visualise them clicking their fingers to the beat with wide smiles on their immaculately groomed faces).

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

Line breaks: fin¦ger

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