[ fing-ger ]
See synonyms for: fingerfingeredfingeringfingers on

  1. any of the terminal members of the hand, especially one other than the thumb.

  2. a part of a glove made to receive a finger.

  1. Zoology. a projection at the tip of an elephant’s trunk that facilitates dexterity essential for grasping: If there are two fingers, it must be an African elephant, as the Asian elephant has only one.

  2. the breadth of a finger as a unit of measurement; digit.

  3. the length of a finger: approximately 4½ inches (11 centimeters).

  4. Slang. an informer or spy.

  5. something like a finger in form or use, as a projection or pointer: a finger of land leading out into the bay;the finger on the speedometer.

  6. any of various projecting parts of machines.

verb (used with object)
  1. to touch with the fingers; toy or meddle with; handle: I couldn't refrain from fingering the beautiful silk scarves.

  2. to touch with the fingers so as to mar or spoil: Please don't finger the vegetables.

  1. Music.

    • to play on (an instrument) with the fingers.

    • to perform or mark (a passage of music) with a certain fingering.

  2. Slang.

    • to inform against or identify (a criminal) to the authorities: He fingered the man who robbed the bank.

    • to designate as a victim, as of murder or other crime.

  3. Slang: Vulgar. to stimulate (the vagina or anus) for sexual gratification by penetration with one or more fingers.

verb (used without object)
  1. to touch or handle something with the fingers.

  2. to extend in or as in the shape of a finger: Landing piers finger out into the river along the city's shoreline.

Idioms about finger

  1. burn one's fingers, to suffer injury or loss by meddling or by acting rashly: If you get involved in the controversy, you may burn your fingers.

  2. give (someone) the finger, Slang. to express contempt for (someone) by or as if by making the obscene gesture of pointing the middle finger upward while folding the other fingers against the palm and turning the back of the hand outward: Someone gave me the finger for driving too slow.: Also flip (someone) the bird .

  1. have a finger in the pie,

    • to have an interest or share in something.

    • to meddle in something.

  2. keep one's fingers crossed, to wish for good luck or success, as in a specific endeavor: Keep your fingers crossed that I get the job.

  3. lay / put one's finger on,

    • to indicate exactly; remember: I know the name, but I can't put my finger on it.

    • to discover; locate: I haven't been able to lay my finger on the book you requested.

  4. not lift a finger, to make not even a small attempt; do nothing: The house was falling into ruin, but he wouldn't lift a finger to repair it.

  5. put the finger on, Slang. finger (def. 13).

  6. slip through one's fingers,

    • to elude one, as an opportunity not taken; escape: She let the chance of a lifetime slip through her fingers.

    • to pass or be consumed quickly: Money just slips through his fingers.

  7. snap one's fingers (at), to exhibit disdain or contempt (for): She snaps her fingers at the local gossip.

  8. twist / wrap around one's little finger, to exert one's influence easily or successfully upon: He has a remarkable talent for twisting people around his little finger.

Origin of finger

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English; cognate with German Finger, Dutch vinger, Old Norse fingr, Gothic figgrs

Other words from finger

  • fin·ger·er, noun
  • fin·ger·less, adjective
  • re·fin·ger, verb

Words Nearby finger Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use finger in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for finger


/ (ˈfɪŋɡə) /

    • any of the digits of the hand, often excluding the thumb: Technical name: digitus manus

    • (as modifier): a finger bowl

    • (in combination): a fingernail Related adjective: digital

  1. the part of a glove made to cover a finger

  1. something that resembles a finger in shape or function: a finger of land

  2. Also called: digit the length or width of a finger used as a unit of measurement

  3. a quantity of liquid in a glass, etc, as deep as a finger is wide; tot

  4. a projecting machine part, esp one serving as an indicator, guide, or guard

  5. burn one's fingers to suffer from having meddled or been rash

  6. get one's finger out or pull one's finger out British informal to begin or speed up activity, esp after initial delay or slackness

  7. have a finger in the pie or have one's finger in the pie

    • to have an interest in or take part in some activity

    • to meddle or interfere

  8. lay a finger on (usually negative) to harm

  9. lay one's finger on or put one's finger on to indicate, identify, or locate accurately

  10. let slip through one's fingers to allow to escape; miss narrowly

  11. not lift a finger or not raise a finger (foll by an infinitive) not to make any effort (to do something)

  12. point the finger at to accuse or blame

  13. put the finger on informal

    • to inform on or identify, esp for the police

    • to choose (the victim or location of an intended crime)

  14. twist around one's little finger or wrap around one's little finger to have easy and complete control or influence over

  1. (tr) to touch or manipulate with the fingers; handle

  2. (tr) informal, mainly US to identify as a criminal or suspect

  1. (intr) to extend like a finger

  2. to use one's fingers in playing (an instrument, such as a piano or clarinet)

  3. to indicate on (a composition or part) the fingering required by a pianist, harpsichordist, etc

  4. (tr; usually passive) to arrange the keys of (a clarinet, flute, etc) for playing in a certain way

Origin of finger

Old English; related to Old Norse fingr, Gothic figgrs, Old High German fingar; see five, fist

Derived forms of finger

  • fingerer, noun
  • fingerless, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with finger


In addition to the idiom beginning with finger

  • finger in the pie, have a

also see:

  • at one's fingertips
  • burn one's fingers
  • cross one's fingers
  • give someone the finger
  • lay a finger on
  • let slip (through the fingers)
  • not lift a finger
  • point the finger at
  • put one's finger on
  • put the finger on
  • snap one's fingers at
  • sticky fingers
  • twist around one's finger
  • work one's fingers to the bone

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.