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See more synonyms for finesse on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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verb (used without object), fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing.
  1. to use finesse or artifice.
  2. to make a finesse at cards.
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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.
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Origin of finesse

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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for finessing

Historical Examples

  • They made for him boldly; there was no need of finessing in his case.

    Harvard Stories

    Waldron Kintzing Post

  • And that shows that you are only a man after all; in spite of your finessing.

  • He threw aside his first intention of finessing Belle into his bedroom on the plea of asking her to help him to pack.

  • Come, Chief Inspector, this finessing with me is highly improper on your part—highly improper.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • That desire was the one real and substantial thing in a somewhat superficial, egotistic, and finessing character.

    Stella Fregelius

    H. Rider Haggard

British Dictionary definitions for finessing


  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
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  1. to manage or bring about with finesse
  2. to play (a card) as a finesse
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Word Origin

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 finessing



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

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper