thumb

noun
\ ˈthəm How to pronounce thumb (audio) \

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

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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 But one of the high court's rules of thumb in Fourth Amendment cases is to determine what level of privacy a person can reasonably expect. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "When it’s (not) okay to spy by drone," 31 Mar. 2021 The rule of the thumb is to generate your revenue from a broad customer base. Joseph Safina, Forbes, "How To Increase Your Company's Value," 5 Mar. 2021 Below are a few more rules of thumb for feeding a dog blueberries. Nicole Letts, Southern Living, "Can Dogs Eat Blueberries?," 21 Feb. 2021 After a slow start in his return to the court from left thumb surgery that cost him the first 12 games and two months of the season, Richardson’s elite shooting form has returned this month. oregonlive, "Sharpshooting duos of Oregon, Iowa could decide whether Ducks or Hawkeyes advance to Sweet 16," 22 Mar. 2021 In 2019, Brees missed five games because of a thumb injury on his throwing hand that required surgery. Brett Martel, The Christian Science Monitor, "Drew Brees retires: Heart of NFL team and city of New Orleans," 14 Mar. 2021 In 2019, Brees missed five games because of a thumb injury on his throwing hand that required surgery. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Record-setting Saints QB Drew Brees announces retirement at 42," 14 Mar. 2021 The Raptors were without star guard Kyle Lowry, who missed the game due to a thumb injury. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Raptors 110, Bucks 96: Milwaukee is in its worst losing streak in four seasons," 18 Feb. 2021 With Goff recovering from right thumb surgery, backup John Wolford started the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. Gary Klein Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Rams general manager is noncommittal about Jared Goff’s future with the team," 26 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And that’s why people who thumb their noses at it have to be prosecuted. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, "Can Cyrus Vance, Jr., Nail Trump?," 12 Mar. 2021 Their decision is not to thumb their nose at the governor. Gillian Flaccus, Anchorage Daily News, "Defiance of virus dining bans grows as restaurants flounder," 13 Jan. 2021 More than half the voters — 52 percent — voted to leave, an emblem of dissatisfaction and disconnection, a chance to thumb a collective nose against the elite. New York Times, "The Brexit Fight, Through a Reporter’s Prism of a Changed Continent," 26 Dec. 2020 But some restaurants continue to thumb their nose at the restrictions not fearing any repercussions. Kevin Bessler, Washington Examiner, "Pritzker asks for federal help for Illinois restaurants and bars," 2 Dec. 2020 As if to thumb its nose at regulators readying imminent antitrust suits, Facebook snuck in an acquisition yesterday. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Facebook’s latest acquisition pushes outside its comfort zone," 1 Dec. 2020 To thumb their nose at the authorities, Moser made the most Swiss watch imaginable by setting real Swiss cheese in a resin for the case, adding a red dial with white markers to evoke the Swiss flag, and making a strap from domestic cowhide. Daniel Bentley, Fortune, "A Q&A with the provocative mind behind watchmaker H. Moser," 21 Sep. 2020 North Texas' housing market continued to thumb its nose at the pandemic in August, with home sales up 11% from a year ago. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "North Texas home sales make up for pandemic losses with August surge," 8 Sep. 2020 Europe’s frenemies | Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has consistently thumbed his nose at the European Union, which in turn criticizes him for cronyism and undermining the rule of law. Rosalind Mathieson, Bloomberg.com, "A Response Designed to Avoid a War," 10 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for thumb

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for thumb

Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thumb.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thumb. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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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)

informal : 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 How to pronounce thumb (audio) \

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 How to pronounce thumb (audio) \

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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Comments on thumb

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