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



    BrE BrE//θʌm//
    ; NAmE NAmE//θʌm//
    Hands and nails
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  1. 1   the short thick finger at the side of the hand, slightly apart from the other four She still sucks her thumb when she's worried. see also green thumb See related entries: Hands and nails
  2. 2  the part of a glove that covers the thumb There's a hole in the thumb.
  3. Word OriginOld 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’.Extra examples He made a thumbs-up sign through the window to tell us everything was fine. He smiled and raised a thumb in greeting. I picked up the beetle carefully between finger and thumb. I sat there twiddling my thumbs until the manager finally appeared. I stuck out a thumb and a car stopped immediately.Idioms
    be all (fingers and) thumbs
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    to be awkward with your hands so that you drop things or are unable to do something
    (South African English) to hope that your plans will be successful or that something will take place in the way that you want it to Let's hold thumbs that you get the job. a practical method of doing or measuring something, usually based on past experience rather than on exact measurement As a rule of thumb, you should cook a chicken for 20 minutes for each pound of weight.
    stand/stick out like a sore thumb
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    to be very noticeable in an unpleasant way The blue building stood out like a sore thumb among the whitewashed villas. If you wear a suit to the party, you’ll stand out like a sore thumb.
    (informal) used to show that something has been accepted/rejected or that it is/is not a success Their proposals were given the thumbs down. It looks like it's thumbs up for their latest album. In contests in ancient Rome the public put their thumbs up if they wanted a gladiator to live, and down if they wanted him to be killed.
    1. 1to move your thumbs around each other with your fingers joined together
    2. 2to do nothing while you are waiting for something to happen
    under somebody’s thumb
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    (of a person) completely controlled by somebody She’s got him under her thumb.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: thumb