Definition of “thumb” - English Dictionary

“thumb” in British English

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thumbnoun [ C ]

uk /θʌm/ us /θʌm/

B1 the short, thick finger on the side of your hand that makes it possible to hold and pick things up easily


  • The thorn was embedded in her thumb.
  • She hit her thumb with the hammer.
  • I gave my thumb quite a nip with the pliers.
  • I sucked my thumb until I was seven.


uk /θʌm/ us /θʌm/
thumb a lift UK informal US thumb a ride

to stand near the edge of a road and hold out your hand with the thumb raised as a signal for a vehicle to stop and take you somewhere:

We thumbed a lift to London.
thumb your nose at sb/sth

to show no respect, or to raise the end of your thumb to the end of your nose to show that you do not respect someone:

He has thumbed his nose at authority all his life.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “thumb” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“thumb” in American English

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thumbnoun [ C ]

us /θʌm/

the short finger that is at an angle to the other fingers:

How did you cut your thumb?

(Definition of “thumb” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“thumb” in Business English

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thumbnoun [ C ]

uk /θʌm/ us
get/be given the thumbs down informal

if an idea, project, etc. gets the thumbs down, it is not approved:

The proposal was given the thumbs down at the board meeting.
get/be given the thumbs up informal

to be approved:

The controversial merger got the thumbs up from investors.

(Definition of “thumb” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)