verb (used with object)
- thumb a ride,
- thumb drive,
- thumb forceps,
- thumb glass,
- thumb index
- 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
Examples from the Web for thumbs
We cannot dither, we cannot just twiddle our thumbs, or wait and see.After Steven Sotloff Murder, Congress Demands a Vote on Obama’s ISIS War|Josh Rogin|September 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Ebert gave James the proverbial two thumbs up, and the project was a go.‘Life Itself’: A Fitting, Heartrending Tribute to Cinema’s Great Appreciator Roger Ebert|Marlow Stern|July 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST
When we nodded, she broke into a wide grin, gestured with two thumbs up, and finished off with a high-five.Going Back to Vietnam Is Sometimes Amusing, Often Fraught, and Always Surreal|Jeff Greenfield|March 9, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Vatican thumbs its nose at UN report blasting them for covering up sex crimes.
Perhaps throwing up your thumbs during a picnic lunch on Serengeti.Miley Cyrus, Walter White, Oprah: Your Pop Culture Halloween Costume Guide|Kevin Fallon|October 21, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Hold hands, palms upward, well down in front, fingers and thumbs well separated and slightly curved; separate hands slightly.Indian Scout Talks|Charles A. Eastman
The Senator leaned back in his chair, and tucked his thumbs into the armholes of his waistcoat.The Honorable Peter Stirling and What People Thought of Him|Paul Leicester Ford
He stumbled to the sail; but his fingers were all thumbs, and he could not untie the halyard.Down The River|Oliver Optic
Griggs tilted his chair, hooked his thumbs into his waistcoat, and challenged me to point out a flaw in his theory.The Abandoned Farmer|Sydney Herman Preston
She actually would not sing unless some one "held her thumbs" first.Memoirs of an American Prima Donna|Clara Louise Kellogg
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