put one's finger on


Also, lay one's finger on.

1

Identify, as in I can't put my finger on the man in that photo. [Late 1800s]

2

See lay a finger on.

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