verb (used with object)
- to put one's thumb to one's nose and extend the fingers as a crudely defiant or contemptuous gesture.
- to express defiance or contempt; dismiss or reject contemptuously.
Origin of thumb
Related Words for thumbclaw, hook, feel, advise, greet, address, employ, shape, wield, handle, lick, pat, rub, tap, reach, stroke, caress, brush, kiss, strike
Examples from the Web for thumb
Contemporary Examples of thumb
Pete stuck his thumb out at the age of 17 and hitch hiked out of Birmingham, England.London’s Pagan Counterculture Kings
October 12, 2014
In the meantime, certain rules of thumb about drone use are self-evident.Soon We’ll Be Watching Whales By Drone
August 25, 2014
He had only one tooth, and he ate by using his thumb as a second incisor.The Stacks: The Judas Priest Teen Suicide Trial
June 28, 2014
All I have been able to find is a cute picture of Spears and Garnett with two comments and 30-some thumb icons of approval.The 'Mommy Blogger Murderess' Lie
June 19, 2014
Let me bite my lip and thrust out my thumb and confess: I did not have literary expectations of that woman, Miss Lewinsky.The Monica Column You Least Expected
May 11, 2014
Historical Examples of thumb
He's under that woman's thumb, of course, and she's told him he mustn't say a word.Within the Law
The boy pointed with his thumb to the door of the cashier's office.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
By the awkwardness of the unpacker, the statue's thumb was broken.Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)
"All gettee out," he said, jerking his thumb in the direction of the court of mystery.The Monster Men
Edgar Rice Burroughs
She keeps Jenkins under her thumb, just as Galloway keeps me.The Channings
Mrs. Henry Wood
Word Origin for thumb
Old English þuma, from West Germanic *thumon- (cf. Old Frisian thuma, Old Saxon, Old High German thumo, German Daumen, Dutch duim "thumb," Old Norse þumall "thumb of a glove"), literally "the stout or thick (finger)," from PIE *tum- "swell" (cf. Latin tumere "to swell," tumidus "swollen;" Avestan tuma "fat;" see thigh). For spelling with -b (attested from late 13c.), see limb.
To be under (someone's) thumb "be totally controlled by that person" is recorded from 1580s. Thumbs up (1887) and thumbs down (1906) were said to be from expressions of approval or the opposite in ancient amphitheaters, especially gladiator shows, where the gesture decided whether a defeated combatant was spared or slain. But the Roman gesture was merely one of hiding the thumb in the hand or extending it. Perhaps the modern gesture is from the usual coachmen's way of greeting while the hands are occupied with the reins.
"to go through" (especially of printed material), 1930, from thumb (n.), though the related sense of "soil or wear by handling" dates from 1640s. Meaning "to hitchhike" is 1939; originally the thumb pointed in the direction one wished to travel. Related: Thumbed; thumbing. To thumb (one's) nose as an expression of derision is recorded from 1903.
In addition to the idioms beginning with thumb
- thumb a ride
- thumb one's nose
- thumbs up
- all thumbs
- green thumb
- rule of thumb
- stick out (like a sore thumb)
- twiddle one's thumbs
- under someone's thumb