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  1. the nail of the thumb.
  2. anything quite small or brief, as a small drawing or short essay.
  3. Printing. a small, rough dummy.
  4. Also called porkchop. Journalism, Printing. a half-column portrait in a newspaper.
  1. quite small or brief; concise: a thumbnail description of Corsica.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make a thumbnail sketch or description of.

Origin of thumbnail

First recorded in 1595–1605; thumb + nail
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for thumbnail


  1. the nail of the thumb
  2. (modifier) concise and briefa thumbnail sketch
  3. computing a small image which can be expanded
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for thumbnail


c.1600, from thumb (n.) + nail (n.). Meaning "drawing or sketch of a small size" (though usually not lierally the size of a thumbnail) is from 1852.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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