verb (used without object), fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing.

to use finesse or artifice.
to make a finesse at cards.

verb (used with object), fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing.

Origin of finesse

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

Synonyms for finesse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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



elegant skill in style or performance
subtlety and tact in handling difficult situations
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
a trick, artifice, or strategy


to manage or bring about with finesse
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