Definition of finesse in English:


Syllabification: fi·nesse
Pronunciation: /fəˈnes


1Intricate and refined delicacy: orchestral playing of great finesse
More example sentences
  • But the Bulldogs' goal-line defence was equally as impressive as their finishing finesse.
  • There is an inherently satisfying quality to sharing the gratification of skill, finesse and excitement with a substantial number of individuals.
  • It is a game of skill, finesse and intelligence.
skill, skillfulness, expertise, subtlety, flair, panache, elan, polish, artistry, virtuosity, mastery
1.1Artful subtlety, typically that needed for tactful handling of a difficulty: clients want advice and action that calls for considerable finesse
More example sentences
  • And I learnt from my Parsi connections through marriage that death and sorrow can be handled with so much finesse, so much dignity.
  • Handle issues with finesse, and you and the crew could come out closer.
  • The elegance of the juxtapositions, presented with utmost tact and finesse, allowed associations to seep into our minds almost unbidden.
2(In bridge and whist) an attempt to win a trick with a card that is not a certain winner.
More example sentences
  • It would be unwise for West to lead from either of his 3x suits (not knowing that partner has the aces), and West hopes to take a finesse in cups later.
  • Advocates were either unaware of the magnitude of possible complications or had their perception thereof narrowed and/or finessed by ideologically driven a priori beliefs, and so on.
  • To do its job, a test needs to be absolutely fair and rigorous, incapable of being finessed, and externally moderated.
winning move, trick, stratagem, ruse, maneuver, artifice, machination


[with object] Back to top  
1Do (something) in a subtle and delicate manner: his third shot, which he attempted to finesse, failed by a fraction
More example sentences
  • The attempt to finesse them does not make them go away.
  • Led by 1996 Olympic coaches, you'll spend four hours a day in the water, finessing your kick-and-pull technique in the four major strokes.
  • But the significant fact is that if they ever could have finessed the election and slipped it past the voters without a real campaign, that is impossible now.
1.1chiefly North American Slyly attempt to avoid blame or censure when dealing with (a situation or action): the administration’s attempts to finesse its mishaps
More example sentences
  • It appears that the administration will attempt to finesse this problem by the blatant expedient of pretending the borrowing never happened.
  • Some interpreters attempt to finesse the problem, claiming that it is irrelevant.
  • As a measure of character, also consider how he finessed the problem of appeasing tree-huggers while avoiding offence to countrymen whom the accords would have thrown out of work.
2(In bridge and whist) play (a card that is not a certain winner) in the hope of winning a trick with it: the declarer finesses ♦J
More example sentences
  • There are three ways of winning tricks: by playing high cards or by finessing (the Venetian word for finesse is passera); by establishing long suits; by trumping suits in which one is void.


late Middle English (in the sense 'purity, delicacy'): from French, related to fine1.

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Word of the day flippant
Pronunciation: ˈflipənt
not showing a serious or respectful attitude