[ fi-ness ]
See synonyms for: finessefinessing 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.

  1. a trick, artifice, or stratagem.

  2. 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.

  1. to make a finesse with (a card).

  2. to force the playing of (a card) by a finesse.

Origin of finesse

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English: “degree of excellence or purity,” from Middle French, from fin fine1 + -esse -ice

Other words for finesse

Words Nearby finesse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use finesse in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for finesse


/ (fɪˈnɛs) /

  1. elegant skill in style or performance

  2. subtlety and tact in handling difficult situations

  1. 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

  2. a trick, artifice, or strategy

  1. to manage or bring about with finesse

  2. to play (a card) as a finesse

Origin of 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