See more synonyms for finesse on
  1. extreme delicacy or subtlety in action, performance, skill, discrimination, taste, etc.
  2. skill in handling a difficult or highly sensitive situation; adroit and artful management: exceptional diplomatic finesse.
  3. a trick, artifice, or stratagem.
  4. Bridge, Whist. an attempt to win a trick with a card while holding a higher card not in sequence with it, in the hope that the card or cards between will not be played.
verb (used without object), fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing.
  1. to use finesse or artifice.
  2. to make a finesse at cards.
verb (used with object), fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing.
  1. to bring about by finesse or artifice.
  2. to avoid; circumvent.
  3. to make a finesse with (a card).
  4. to force the playing of (a card) by a finesse.

Origin of finesse

1400–50; late Middle English: degree of excellence or purity < Middle French < Vulgar Latin *fīnitia. See fine1, -ice

Synonyms for finesse

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for finesse

Contemporary Examples of finesse

Historical Examples of finesse

  • As he was clumsy in finesse, she understood his idea, and her eyes flashed.

  • We see nothing but nature; not a particle of false delicacy or finesse.

  • Through his father's finesse, Paul moved in select London circles.

    Oswald Langdon

    Carson Jay Lee

  • The public taste condones it, may even be said to relish it to finesse.


    David Christie Murray

  • However, I have no doubt that with a little delicacy and finesse the end may be attained.

British Dictionary definitions for finesse


  1. elegant skill in style or performance
  2. subtlety and tact in handling difficult situations
  3. bridge whist an attempt to win a trick when opponents hold a high card in the suit led by playing a lower card, hoping the opponent who has already played holds the missing card
  4. a trick, artifice, or strategy
  1. to manage or bring about with finesse
  2. to play (a card) as a finesse

Word Origin for finesse

C15: from Old French, from fin fine, delicate; see fine 1
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 finesse

1520s, from Middle French finesse "fineness, subtlety," from Old French fin "subtle, delicate" (see fine (adj.)).


1746, originally as a term in whist; see finesse (n.). Related: Finessed; finessing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper