the nail of the thumb.
anything quite small or brief, as a small drawing or short essay.
Printing. a small, rough dummy.
Also called porkchop. Journalism, Printing. a half-column portrait in a newspaper.


quite small or brief; concise: a thumbnail description of Corsica.

verb (used with object)

to make a thumbnail sketch or description of.

Origin of thumbnail

First recorded in 1595–1605; thumb + nail Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thumbnail

Contemporary Examples of thumbnail

  • The project made me ask, how do you avoid reducing the dead to thumbnail profiles?

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    The Best 9/11 Books

    The Browser

    September 9, 2011

Historical Examples of thumbnail

British Dictionary definitions for thumbnail



the nail of the thumb
(modifier) concise and briefa thumbnail sketch
computing a small image which can be expanded
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 thumbnail

c.1600, from thumb (n.) + nail (n.). Meaning "drawing or sketch of a small size" (though usually not lierally the size of a thumbnail) is from 1852.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper