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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.
2. Music
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.
3. Informal
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 Indo-European roots.]

fin′ger·er n.
fin′ger·less adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



See Also: HAND(S)

  1. Fingernails … long as stilettos —T. Coraghessan Boyle
  2. Fingernails that were long and curved and looked as tough as horn —Sue Grafton
  3. Fingers are thin as ice —Marge Piercy
  4. Fingers brown and hard as wood —Philip Levine
  5. Fingers cool as gemstones —R. Wright Campbell
  6. Fingers danced like midgets above a summer stream —O. Henry
  7. Fingers fluttering … like butterflies —William Goyen
  8. Fingers fluttering like ribbons —Sharon Sheehe Stark
  9. Fingers … gnarled, like the roots of trees in an Arthur Rackham drawing —Antonia Fraser
  10. Fingers … hard and inactive, like the gnarled roots of a dead tree —Frank Swinnerton
  11. Fingers … like a bundle of broom straw, so thin and dry —Louise Erdrich
  12. Fingers like long wax candles —Cynthia Ozick
  13. Fingers like pliers —Donald Seaman
  14. (The woman’s) fingers rustled like branches against her face —Leigh Allison Wilson
  15. Fingers spread apart like the talons of a predatory bird —William March
  16. Fingers spreading out like fans —Pat Conroy
  17. Fingers tap like a lover’s fondling a girl’s hard little breasts —Babette Deutsch
  18. Fingers thick as sausages —James Crumley
  19. Fingers tightly clenched, as if to check an involuntary gesture —Edith Wharton
  20. Fingers … weighty as sandbags —Frank Conroy
  21. Fingers were stiff as little darts —M. J. Farrell
  22. Her fingers moved over his ribs gently as a harpist’s —Ross Macdonald


  23. Knuckles … like a row of little white onions —Roald Dahl

    The white onion look is caused by a very hard hand grip.

  24. (Hands crouched on the table before her, the) knuckles like miniature snow-capped mountains —Marge Piercy
  25. Knuckles [from gripping a table very hard] shone like white stones —Mary Hedin
  26. Long fingers arched like grapplehooks —William Carlos Williams
  27. Long inquisitive fingers thrown out like antennae —Edith Wharton
  28. Long thin fingers moving like knitting needles —Liam O’Flaherty
  29. Long thin nails, like splinters —Elizabeth Spencer
  30. My fingers fidget like ten idle brats —Wilfred Owens
  31. Opening and closing his fingers like folding and unfolding a fan —George Garrett
  32. Pointed his finger like a revolver —Charles Johnson
  33. Put his fingertips together thoughtfully, like a man preparing to pray —Paul Theroux
  34. Snapping his fingers together like a pair of scissors —Margaret Atwood
  35. Thumb like the butt of a pistol —Sterling Hayden
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
The fingers spread slightly, falling apart of their own weight, and the pencil rolled away.
"But of what value are these imprints," asked Tarzan, "when, after a few years the lines upon the fingers are entirely changed by the wearing out of the old tissue and the growth of new?"
But while they burned close up to his fingers, and while he made a simulation of prodigious puffing, his keen little blue eyes, under shaggy, grizzled brows, intently studied Michael.
He sat down himself, and, rubbing his little hands with short fingers covered with white hairs, he bent his head on one side.
But is this equally true of the greatness and smallness of the fingers? Can sight adequately perceive them?
"You wouldn't give me another if I sat here all night imploring you." He sat close to her on a low tabouret, and as he spoke his fingers lightly touched the hair that fell a little over her forehead.
Clever are they--they have dexterous fingers: what doth MY simplicity pretend to beside their multiplicity!
From the time that his little fingers could grasp a penknife, Owen had been remarkable for a delicate ingenuity, which sometimes produced pretty shapes in wood, principally figures of flowers and birds, and sometimes seemed to aim at the hidden mysteries of mechanism.
Instead, steel fingers gripped his shoulder, and he was swung unceremoniously around, to meet the cold gray eyes of the stranger who had thwarted him on the previous day.
DO you suppose I could?--'fore I get to Heaven, I mean," she cried, pulling out with eager fingers the straight locks above her ears.
"Life was a rose-lipped comrade With purple flowers dripping from her fingers." --The Author.
"I get the subject to pass the fingers of his right through his hair, so as to get a little coating of the natural oil on them, and then press the balls of them on the glass.