1. Refinement and delicacy of performance, execution, or artisanship.
2. Skillful, subtle handling of a situation; tactful, diplomatic maneuvering.
3. A method of leading up to a tenace, as in bridge, in order to prevent an opponent from winning the trick with an intermediate card.
4. A stratagem in which one appears to decline an advantage.
v. fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing, fi·ness·es
1. To accomplish by the use of finesse.
2. To handle with a deceptive or evasive strategy.
3. To play (a card) as a finesse.
1. To use finesse.
2. To make a finesse in cards.
[French, fineness, subtlety, from fin, fine; see FINE1.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.