1. One of the five digits of the hand, especially one other than the thumb.
2. The part of a glove designed to cover a finger.
3. Something, such as an oblong peninsula, that resembles one of the digits of the hand.
4. The length or width of a finger.
5. A degree of participation; a share: "seems almost sure to have a finger or two in crafting the final blueprint" (George B. Merry).
6. An obscene gesture of defiance or derision made by pointing or jabbing the middle finger upward. Often used with the.
v. fin·gered, fin·ger·ing, fin·gers
1. To touch with the fingers; handle. See Synonyms at touch.
a. To mark (a score) with indications of which fingers are to play the notes.
b. To play (an instrument) by using the fingers in a particular order or way.
a. To identify as responsible for wrongdoing or a crime, especially to the police: fingered the sales clerk as the thief.
b. To identify or designate as being responsible: "An international team of scientists fingered [the fungus] as the culprit in die-offs of 19 amphibian species" (Science News).
4. Vulgar Slang To insert one or more fingers into the anus or vagina of (a person) as a means of sexual stimulation.
1. To handle something with the fingers.
2. Music To use the fingers in playing an instrument.
have/keep (one's) fingers crossed
To hope for a successful or advantageous outcome.
lay (one's)/a finger on
To locate; find: We haven't been able to lay a finger on those photos.
put (one's) finger on
To remember; recall: I know his name; I just can't put my finger on it.
twist/wrap around (one's) little finger
To dominate utterly and effortlessly.
[Middle English, from Old English; see penkwe in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.