Definition of thumb verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    thumb

     verb
    verb
    BrE BrE//θʌm//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//θʌm//
     
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they thumb
    BrE BrE//θʌm//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//θʌm//
     
    he / she / it thumbs
    BrE BrE//θʌmz//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//θʌmz//
     
    past simple thumbed
    BrE BrE//θʌmd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//θʌmd//
     
    past participle thumbed
    BrE BrE//θʌmd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//θʌmd//
     
    -ing form thumbing
    BrE BrE//ˈθʌmɪŋ//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈθʌmɪŋ//
     
     
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to make a signal with your thumb to passing drivers to ask them to stop and take you somewhere + adv./prep. He had thumbed all across Europe. (British English) thumb a lift We managed to thumb a lift with a lorry driver. (North American English) thumb a ride We managed to thumb a ride with a truck driver.
  2. 2[transitive] thumb something (+ adv./prep.) to touch or move something with your thumb She thumbed off the safety catch of her pistol. see also well thumbed
  3. Word Origin Old English thūma, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch duim and German Daumen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin tumere ‘to swell’. The verb dates from the late 16th cent., first in the sense ‘play (a musical instrument) with the thumbs’.Idioms
    thumb your nose at somebody/something
     
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    to make a rude sign with your thumb on your nose; to show that you have no respect for somebody/something The company just thumbs its nose at the legislation on pollution.
    Phrasal Verbsthumb through something
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: thumb