1 : to make a finesse in playing cards : to play (a card) in a finesse
2 a : to bring about, direct, or manage by adroit maneuvering
Did You Know?
Finesse was a noun for more than 300 years before it became a verb. In the 15th century the noun finesse was used to refer to refinement or delicacy of workmanship, structure, or texture. During the 16th century, it developed the "skillful handling of a situation" meaning most common today. The first use of the verb finesse, however, was not as a corollary of one of these meanings. Instead, its meaning had to do with cards: if you finesse in a game like bridge or whist, you withhold your highest card or trump in the hope that a lower card will take the trick because the only opposing higher card is in the hand of an opponent who has already played. The other verb meanings of finesse developed soon after this one.
"No author can finesse wry, homespun humor better than Fannie Flagg …, whose main claim to literary fame remains the award-winning 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.'" — Allen Pierleoni, The Sacramento (California) Bee, 20 Jan. 2017
"My base in Johannesburg was the superb Saxon Hotel…. Outside that cocoon of safety a guide was essential. Mine showed a marked reluctance to venture into the badlands of the city centre…. But he finessed the security barriers to take me around Parktown, which more than made up for it." — Clive Aslet, The Daily Telegraph (London), 21 Jan. 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Antonym
Unscramble the letters to create an antonym of finesse: MEFUBL.VIEW THE ANSWER
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