Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The short thick digit of the human hand, next to the index finger and opposable to each of the other four digits.
  • n. A corresponding digit in other animals, especially primates. Also called pollex.
  • n. The part of a glove or mitten that covers the thumb.
  • n. Architecture An ovolo.
  • transitive v. To scan (written matter) by turning over pages with or as if with the thumb.
  • transitive v. To disarrange, soil, or wear by careless or frequent handling.
  • transitive v. Informal To solicit (a ride) from a passing vehicle by signaling with the thumb.
  • intransitive v. To scan written matter by turning over pages with or as if with the thumb: thumbed through the latest issue of the magazine.
  • intransitive v. Informal To hitchhike.
  • idiom all thumbs Lacking physical coordination, skill, or grace; clumsy.
  • idiom thumb (one's) nose To express scorn or ridicule by or as if by placing the thumb on the nose and wiggling the fingers.
  • idiom thumbs down An expression of rejection, refusal, or disapproval.
  • idiom thumbs up An expression of approval, success, or hope.
  • idiom under (one's) thumb Under the control of someone; subordinate to.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The short thick digit of the hand that for humans has the most mobility and can be made to oppose (moved to touch) all of the other fingers.
  • n. The part of a slider that may be moved linearly along the slider.
  • n. A thumbnail picture.
  • v. To touch with the thumb.
  • v. To turn the pages of (a book) in order to read it cursorily.
  • v. To hitchhike

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The short, thick first digit of the human hand, differing from the other fingers in having but two phalanges; the pollex. See pollex.
  • intransitive v. To play with the thumb or thumbs; to play clumsily; to thrum.
  • transitive v. To handle awkwardly.
  • transitive v. To play with the thumbs, or with the thumbs and fingers.
  • transitive v. To soil or wear with the thumb or the fingers; to soil, or wear out, by frequent handling; also, to cover with the thumb.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cover with the thumb, as the vent of a muzzle-loading cannon.
  • To handle or perform awkwardly: as, to thumb over a tune.
  • To soil or wear out with much handling; hence, to use, read, or turn over the pages of (as a book).
  • To turn (one's glass) over the thumb: an old custom when persons were drinking together, intending to show that the glass had been emptied so that the small drop remaining would lie on the thumb-nail without running off. Compare supernaculum.
  • n. In geology, a columnar projection of eruptive rock.
  • n. The shortest and thickest finger of the human hand; the pollex; the first digit of the hand, on the radial side, next to the index or forefinger.
  • n. The inner, radial, or first digit of the fore paw of any animal. When there are five digits, the first of these always corresponds to the human thumb; otherwise not.
  • n. The movable radial digit of a bird's manus or pinion, which bears the packet of feathers called the alula or bastard wing, and which is usually movable apart from the rest of the bones.
  • n. The thumb of the foot; the hallux; the inner digit of the foot, called the great toe in man.
  • n. The hind toe of a bird (except a three-toed woodpecker); the hallux; when there are two hind toes, the inner one of these (except in trogons).
  • n. Palpitation of the heart in domestic animals, as the horse, the result of functional or organic disease. See palpitation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. feel or handle with the fingers
  • n. the part of a glove that provides a covering for the thumb
  • n. a convex molding having a cross section in the form of a quarter of a circle or of an ellipse
  • v. travel by getting free rides from motorists
  • n. the thick short innermost digit of the forelimb
  • v. look through a book or other written material

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English thūma; see teuə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English thoume, thoumbe, from Old English þūma, from Proto-Germanic *þūmô (cf. West Frisian tomme, Dutch duim, German Daumen), from Proto-Indo-European *tūm- (“to grow”) (cf. Welsh tyfu ("to grow"), Latin tumēre ("to swell"), Albanian thumb ("a sting, protuberance"), Lithuanian tumėti ("to thicken, clot"), Ancient Greek týmbos 'burial mound', Avestan tūma 'strong', Sanskrit túmras 'strong, thick'). (Wiktionary)

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