thumb

noun
\ˈthəm \

Definition of thumb 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the short thick digit of the human hand that is analogous in position to the big toe and differs from the other fingers in having only two phalanges, allowing greater freedom of movement, and being opposable to each of them also : a corresponding digit in lower animals

2 : the part of a glove or mitten that covers the thumb

3 : a convex molding : ovolo

all thumbs

: extremely awkward or clumsy

under one's thumb or under the thumb

: under control : in a state of subservience her father did not have her that much under his thumb— Hamilton Basso

thumb

verb
thumbed; thumbing; thumbs

Definition of thumb (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to turn over pages thumb through a book

2 : to travel by thumbing rides : hitchhike thumbed across the country

transitive verb

1 : to request or obtain (a ride) in a passing automobile by signaling with the thumb

2a : to leaf through (pages) with the thumb : turn

b : to soil or wear by or as if by repeated thumbing a badly thumbed book

thumb one's nose

1 : to express disdain or defiance thumb their nose at opulenceSales Management

2 : to place the thumb at one's nose and extend the fingers as a gesture of scorn or defiance

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Synonyms for thumb

Synonyms: Verb

flip, leaf, riffle, skim

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Examples of thumb in a Sentence

Noun

a little girl sucking her thumb I accidentally cut my thumb. My mitten has a hole in the thumb.

Verb

I thumbed a ride to school. He thumbed his way to New York. He thumbed across the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Measurements varied across the board, but researchers found that the thumb, index and middle fingers always played a role of high importance. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?," 13 July 2018 Mending outfielders Lovullo said that sidelined outfielder A.J. Pollock (thumb), who has missed the past 39 games, took live batting practice for the first time Wednesday and is very close to beginning a rehab stint in the minors. Harvey Fialkov, azcentral, "Diamondbacks' Torey Lovullo a big fan of Deven Marrero's defensive ability," 27 June 2018 Aguilar, 28, opened the season riding the bench, waiting for his chance, when Thames suffered a torn thumb ligament, sidelining him for two months. Bobby Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Unlikely players who could become first-time MLB All-Stars," 26 June 2018 And then there was a bunch of other stuff that happened, like Ford admitting Maeve was his favorite of his creations, or Teddy shooting himself to get out from under Dolores’s thumb, or Bernard desperately trying to rid himself of Ford’s ghost. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Is Westworld moving forward or going in circles?," 18 June 2018 Obama got 166 votes and Wishtree got 127 thumbs ups. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Richmond, Va. Elementary School, Once Named After Confederate Leader, Renamed in Honor of Obama," 19 June 2018 Streisand is giving an early thumbs-up to the fourth version of the romance between a rising young performer and a fading one, which Cooper directed. Fox News, "Barbra Streisand approves Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's 'A Star Is Born' remake," 13 June 2018 Google has put an emphasis on likes, including thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons in the now playing window for every song and video. Micah Singleton, The Verge, "YouTube Music finally gets it right," 25 May 2018 Shion doesn’t even have to ask if Ami agreed — Yuudai is in a state of ecstasy and holding up two thumbs-up. Mariah Smith, The Cut, "This Episode of Terrace House Ends on a Cliff-hanger," 17 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For that book, Mr. Stricherz spent 17 years thumbing through more than 100,000 slides gathered from midcentury American families, yet found fewer than 100 self-portraits. Alex Williams, New York Times, "How the Selfie Conquered the World," 2 Mar. 2018 Some thanks Big thumbs up to those of you who offered tips about my trip to Jekyll Island, including restaurants to eat at. John Cherwa, latimes.com, "Racing! Happy Fourth of July," 4 July 2018 All had out-of-town landlords who thumbed their noses at codes meant to keep their properties safe and secure. Ronnie Polaneczky, Philly.com, "L&I gets it right with developer of 'potential death trap' | Ronnie Polaneczky," 10 May 2018 Brown and other California Democrats, who've repeatedly clashed with Trump on immigration policy, saw the move as Trump thumbing their nose at him. John Wagner, chicagotribune.com, "Trump resumes war of words with California governor over border troops," 17 Apr. 2018 Brown and other California Democrats, who have repeatedly clashed with Trump on immigration policy, saw the move as Trump thumbing his nose at them. John Wagner, Washington Post, "After a very brief respite, Trump resumes his war of words with California Gov. Jerry Brown," 17 Apr. 2018 The spree began in February 1972, when Yvonne Weber and Maureen Sterling, both 13, were thumbing rides on Guerneville Road. Katie Dowd, San Francisco Chronicle, "10 Bay Area cold cases that remain unsolved," 29 Apr. 2018 The Justice Department is thumbing its nose at Congress. Fox News, "Gowdy to Schiff: GOP doesn't give a damn what you think," 6 July 2018 His daughter-in-law Roni Detrick, 61, now runs his you-pick operation, where customers can rest in the shade of an ancient oak after a few hours of thumbing clusters of old-fashioned sweet Walcotts into a pail. Rachel Wharton, New York Times, "In the Shadow of the Blueberry Titans, Smaller Growers Thrive," 2 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of thumb

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1647, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for thumb

Noun

Middle English thoume, thoumbe, from Old English thūma; akin to Old High German thūmo thumb, Latin tumēre to swell

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Statistics for thumb

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thumb

The first known use of thumb was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for thumb

thumb

noun

English Language Learners Definition of thumb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the short, thick finger on the side of your hand

: the part of a glove or mitten that covers a thumb

thumb

verb

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

: to ask for or get a ride in a passing vehicle by sticking out your arm with your thumb up as you stand on the side of the road

thumb

noun
\ˈthəm \

Kids Definition of thumb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the short thick finger next to the forefinger

2 : the part of a glove covering the thumb

thumb

verb
thumbed; thumbing

Kids Definition of thumb (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to turn the pages of quickly with the thumb

2 : to seek or get (a ride) in a passing automobile by signaling with the thumb

thumb

noun
\ˈthəm \

Medical Definition of thumb 

: the short and thick first or most preaxial digit of the human hand that differs from the other fingers in having only two phalanges, in having greater freedom of movement, and in being opposable to the other fingers

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