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 thumbedfeel, advise, greet, address, employ, shape, wield, handle, lick, pat, rub, tap, reach, stroke, caress, brush, kiss, strike, hit, hitch
Examples from the Web for thumbed
Contemporary Examples of thumbed
Putin thumbed his nose at Obama and the rest of the world during the G20 summit.Russia’s Cynical Foreign Policy Play
September 9, 2013
Russia, by contrast, thumbed its nose at Washington and got away with it.Obama's Global Failure
March 21, 2010
As I thumbed through the pamphlet I turned to page 5, state measures.Keep Your Laws Off My Family
October 29, 2008
Historical Examples of thumbed
He thumbed down the communicator-button and spoke into a microphone.Pariah Planet
Jon thumbed the tag out of his waist slot and handed it across the desk.The Velvet Glove
I had to try to stop him here, and with fear and trepidation I thumbed the reel.Tales of Fishes
He thumbed a tablet into his mouth, and presently his breathing quieted.The Colors of Space
Marion Zimmer Bradley
It was thumbed and thrumbed all to pieces from long and patient use.Shadows of Shasta
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