fin·​ish | \ ˈfi-nish How to pronounce finish (audio) \
finished; finishing; finishes

Definition of finish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to come to an end : terminate The meeting finished at noon.
2a : to come to the end of a course, task, or undertaking I shall finish with a Chopin nocturne— Lillian Hellman
b : to end relations used with withdecided to finish with him for good
3 : to end a competition in a specified manner or position finished third in the race

transitive verb

1a : to bring to an end : terminate finished the speech and sat down
b : to use or dispose of entirely her sandwich finished the loaf
2a : to bring to completion or issue hope to finish their new home before winter
b : to provide with a finish especially : to put a final coat or surface on finish a table with varnish
3a : to defeat or ruin utterly and finally the scandal finished his career
b : to bring about the death of usually used with offThe gladiator finished off his opponent.



Definition of finish (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that completes or perfects: such as
a : the fine or decorative work required for a building or one of its parts
b : a finishing material used in painting
c : the final treatment or coating of a surface
d : the taste in the mouth after swallowing a beverage (such as wine)
2a : final stage : end
b : the cause of one's ruin
3 : the result or product of a finishing process a glossy finish
4 : the quality or state of being perfected

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from finish


finisher noun

Choose the Right Synonym for finish


close, end, conclude, finish, complete, terminate mean to bring or come to a stopping point or limit. close usually implies that something has been in some way open as well as unfinished. close a debate end conveys a strong sense of finality. ended his life conclude may imply a formal closing (as of a meeting). the service concluded with a blessing finish may stress completion of a final step in a process. after it is painted, the house will be finished complete implies the removal of all deficiencies or a successful finishing of what has been undertaken. the resolving of this last issue completes the agreement terminate implies the setting of a limit in time or space. your employment terminates after three months

Examples of finish in a Sentence

Verb You can't watch TV until you finish your homework. He started his homework two hours ago and he still hasn't finished. They hope to finish their new home by winter. They're building a new home and they hope to finish by winter. The chairman finished the meeting at noon. The meeting finished on a positive note. Noun a suspense film with a perfect surprise finish The table had a shiny finish. I need to put one more coat of finish on the chair.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The 35-year-old had finished her first day of cosmetology school that afternoon. NBC News, "Six years of Dateline's Missing in America: 134 still missing," 5 Dec. 2019 The Beavers have finished the season, failing to qualify for a bowl game although the 5-7 record is the team's best since 2014 and were the most improved team in the Pac-12. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "Two more names surface in Arizona State offensive coordinator search," 5 Dec. 2019 Matt Nagy had just finished his Sunday afternoon news conference and was walking through a hallway at Halas Hall when backup quarterback Chase Daniel stopped him. Dan Wiederer,, "Bears Thursday storylines: A discussion of offensive trickery, a game-winning confidence boost and playoff dreams at 6-6," 4 Dec. 2019 Craig’s first appearance as Blanc is delightfully disorienting: quirky, abrasive, and finished with an over-the-top southern accent inspired by historian Shelby Foote. Estelle Tang, Vogue, "On the Perfect Casting of Knives Out," 4 Dec. 2019 Stephanie Peterson, who now works as an engineer, had just finished plebe summer at the Naval Academy in 2010 when her father recounted the story to her. Washington Post, "Man who encountered Beltway Snipers recounts experience," 3 Dec. 2019 Rickie Fowler The 2017 champ has never finished worse than his T-5 in 2018. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Hero World Challenge: Fantasy Golf Power Rankings," 2 Dec. 2019 But Okudah stuck a hand in to begin dislodging the ball, and Fuller’s hit may have finished the job, as Peoples-Jones came down without the ball. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "How Ohio State’s defense, staggered at first against Michigan, came together: Buckeye Rewatch," 2 Dec. 2019 Eight Knights have finished in double figures at least once. Brian Murphy,, "UCF basketball eager to build on success during home matchup with NJIT," 1 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The ride is a whopping 18 minutes long from start to finish and includes three distinct acts. James Hibberd,, "Rise of the Resistance," 4 Dec. 2019 Achieving this end requires, above all else, patience: From start to finish, the process will take about an hour, and any recipe that quotes you 20 minutes is lying. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "3 Tricks for Perfect, Never-Burnt, Caramelized Onions," 4 Dec. 2019 Emmah Chelimo and Nancy Jeptoo ran to top-10 finishes Saturday while lifting UAA to eighth place at the NCAA Division II cross-country championships in Sacramento, California. Anchorage Daily News, "Two UAA women finish top 10 at Division II cross-country championships," 24 Nov. 2019 So, the Bears will be rooting for Howard to have a big finish to the season. Brad Biggs,, "Brad Biggs’ 10 thoughts on the Bears’ 17-7 loss to the Rams," 18 Nov. 2019 Doerger, a senior, was in position for a top-10 finish but fell to the ground multiple times before crawling to the finish line to end a podium-worthy performance. Shelby Dermer,, "Cross country: Lakota East girls finish at DI runner-up; Princeton's Kaylor leans to 3rd," 3 Nov. 2019 Last year's men's winner was Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa, who has numerous top-three finishes in the New York and Boston marathons. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Joyciline Jepkosgei takes down a superstar and fellow Kenyan to win NYC Marathon," 3 Nov. 2019 Junior Jenna Gruber also notched a top-30 finish, coming in 27th for coach Rick Ford. Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star, "Cardinal Ritter cross country led by two sets of twins bound for state meet," 1 Nov. 2019 That stretch included three Rose Bowl victories under Alvarez and eight top-10 finishes in the Associated Press poll. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Can Wisconsin football ever catch up to Ohio State’s level? Friday Focus," 25 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'finish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of finish


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1779, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for finish


Middle English finisshen, borrowed from Anglo-French finiss-, stem of finir, going back to Latlin fīnīre "to mark out the boundaries, limit, put an end to, bring to a close," derivative of fīnis "boundary, limit, ending" — more at final entry 1


derivative of finish entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about finish

Time Traveler for finish

Time Traveler

The first known use of finish was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for finish

Last Updated

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Finish.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for finish


How to pronounce finish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of finish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to reach the end of (something) : to stop doing (something) because it is completed
: to be done with building or creating (something)
: to cause something to end or stop : to reach the end of something



English Language Learners Definition of finish (Entry 2 of 2)

: the last part of something
: the final coating on a surface or the appearance produced by such a coating


fin·​ish | \ ˈfi-nish How to pronounce finish (audio) \
finished; finishing

Kids Definition of finish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to bring or come to an end : complete
2 : to use up completely I finished the pie.
3 : to end a competition in a certain position I finished third in the race.
4 : to put a final coat or surface on He finished the wood table with varnish.



Kids Definition of finish (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : end entry 1 sense 2, conclusion The race had a close finish.
2 : the final treatment or coating of a surface or the appearance given by such a treatment The table has a shiny finish.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on finish

What made you want to look up finish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period of high artistic development

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!