an impression of the markings of the inner surface of the last joint of the thumb or other finger.
such an impression made with ink for purposes of identification.
any unique or distinctive pattern that presents unambiguous evidence of a specific person, substance, disease, etc.

verb (used with object)

to take or record the fingerprints of.

Origin of fingerprint

First recorded in 1855–60; finger + print Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for fingerprint

identify, dab, mark, dactylogram

Examples from the Web for fingerprint

Contemporary Examples of fingerprint

Historical Examples of fingerprint

  • Bart realized it was something like a fingerprint they wanted.

    The Colors of Space

    Marion Zimmer Bradley

  • “Such as fingerprint and retinal patterns,” said Lieutenant Nariaki.

    Unwise Child

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Not even a fingerprint on the telephone or revolver, except Gleasons own.

    The Luminous Face

    Carolyn Wells

  • Matching of trace impurities is often called a “fingerprint” method.

  • Only you have your fingerprint, but you share your gait with plenty other people.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow

British Dictionary definitions for fingerprint



an impression of the pattern of ridges on the palmar surface of the end joint of each finger and thumb
any identifying characteristic
biochem the pattern of fragments obtained when a protein is digested by a proteolytic enzyme, usually observed following two-dimensional separation by chromatography and electrophoresis


(tr) to take an inked impression of the fingerprints of (a person)
to take a sample of (a person's) DNA
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 fingerprint

1834, from finger (n.) + print (n.). Proposed as a means of identification from c.1892. Admissibility as evidence as valid proof of guilt in murder trials in U.S. upheld in 1912. From 1905 as a verb. Related: Fingerprinted; fingerprinting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fingerprint in Medicine




An impression on a surface of the curves formed by the ridges on a fingertip, especially such an impression made in ink and used as a means of identification.
A distinctive or identifying mark or characteristic.
An analytical method capable of making fine distinctions between similar compounds.


To take fingerprints of.
To identify by a distinctive mark or characteristic.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

fingerprint in Culture


The impression or mark left by the underside of the tips of the fingers or thumbs. The impression is formed by a pattern of ridges on the skin surface. This pattern is unique for each individual and therefore can serve as a means of identification. (Compare DNA fingerprinting.)


Fingerprinting is used extensively in criminal investigation, but it is also used as a means of identification by many organizations.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.