fin·ger / ˈfinggər/ • n. each of the four slender jointed parts attached to either hand (or five, if the thumb is included). ∎ a part of a glove intended to cover a finger. ∎ a measure of liquor in a glass, based on the breadth of a finger: he poured three fingers of vodka into a juice glass. ∎ an object that has roughly the long, narrow shape of a finger: a shortbread finger.• v. [tr.] 1. touch or feel (something) with the fingers: the thin man fingered his mustache. ∎ play (a musical instrument) with the fingers, esp. in a tentative or casual manner: the woman fingered her lute.2. inf. inform on (someone) to the police: you fingered me for those burglaries.PHRASES: be all fingers and thumbs inf. be clumsy or awkward in one's actions.have a finger in every pie be involved in a large and varied number of activities or enterprises.have (or keep) one's finger on the pulse be aware of all the latest news or developments: he keeps his finger on the pulse of world music.lay a finger on someone touch someone, esp. with the intention of harming them.put one's finger on something identify something exactly: he cannot put his finger on what has gone wrong.DERIVATIVES: fin·gered adj. [in comb.] a two-fingered whistle
a finger in every pie involved in a large and varied number of activities or enterprises; the expression in this form is recorded from the late 19th century, but the image of a finger (earlier hand) in a pie indicating involvement dates back to the mid 16th century.
fingers were made before forks commonly used as a polite excuse for eating with one's hands at table. The saying is recorded from the mid 18th century, but an earlier variant ‘God made hands before knives’ is found in the mid 16th century.
see also cross one's fingers at cross3, five-finger exercise, green fingers.