A thumb is a finger, but it’s separate from the other four fingers on your hand. The thumb helps us pick up and hold things. Without a thumb, it would be difficult to do some very basic physical tasks.

  • Video gamers rely on their thumbs when using a console to play games.
  • Jessica uses her thumbs when she sends a text.
  • Have you ever tried to button or zip up a jacket without using your thumbs?
  • I burned my left thumb when taking a hot pan out of the oven.
  • To hitchhike , walk backwards on the side of the road and point your thumb in the direction you are heading. (hitchhike = to get a ride from a passing vehicle)
  • The police officer jerked his thumb sideways to signal the driver to pull over.
  • Clicking on the thumb on Facebook shows that you like something.
  • Nelson pointed his thumb downward to show that he was unhappy with the decision.
  • The movie reviewer gave the film two thumbs up for its brilliant acting and suspenseful plot.
thumb upthumb down

There are a few expressions that use this word:

  • Todd is all thumbs. (all thumbs = clumsy.)
  • Larissa has a green thumb. Her gardens are beautiful. (green thumb = skilled at gardening)
  • A good rule of thumb for people who want to buy a house these days is that they’ll need a twenty percent down payment when getting a mortgage. (rule of thumb = measurement; estimate)

Note: The word "thumb" uses an unvoiced "th" sound. Click here to practice the unvoiced th sound if you have trouble with it.

Click here to go to the Word of the Day page.

November 23, 2015