Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Refinement and delicacy of performance, execution, or artisanship.
  • noun Skillful, subtle handling of a situation; tactful, diplomatic maneuvering.
  • noun A method of leading up to a tenace, as in bridge, in order to prevent an opponent from winning the trick with an intermediate card.
  • noun A stratagem in which one appears to decline an advantage.
  • intransitive verb To accomplish by the use of finesse.
  • intransitive verb To handle with a deceptive or evasive strategy.
  • intransitive verb To play (a card) as a finesse.
  • intransitive verb To use finesse.
  • intransitive verb To make a finesse in cards.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To use artifice or fine stratagem.
  • In whist-playing, to attempt to take a trick by finesse.
  • In whist-playing, to practise or perform a finesse with: as, to finesse a king, a knave, etc.
  • noun In the fine arts, subtlety and delicacy in color or form.
  • noun Artifice; delicate stratagem; subtlety of contrivance; also, that quality of mind or character which leads to subtle actions.
  • noun In whist, the play (usually by the third hand, but occasionally by the second) of a card (say C) of the suit led, lower than another (A) in the hand, in the hope that an unplayed card (B) of intermediate value, whose position is still unknown, may be found to lie to the right, so that the trick may be taken by the card C while A is reserved to take B.
  • noun Fineness of perception.
  • noun Synonyms Artifice, Manæuver, etc. (see artifice); skill, artfulness, adroitness, craft, subterfuge.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Subtilty of contrivance to gain a point; artifice; stratagem.
  • noun (Whist Playing) The act of finessing. See Finesse, v. i., 2.
  • intransitive verb To use artifice or stratagem.
  • intransitive verb (Whist Playing) To attempt, when second or third player, to make a lower card answer the purpose of a higher, when an intermediate card is out, risking the chance of its being held by the opponent yet to play.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable The property of having grace, elegance, skill, or balance.
  • noun uncountable Skill in handling of a situation.
  • noun countable An adroit maneuver.
  • noun countable, bridge A technique which allows one to promote tricks based on a favorable position of one or more cards in the hands of the opponent.
  • verb transitive, intransitive, card games To play (a card) as a finesse (see noun sense above).
  • verb transitive To handle or manage carefully or skillfully.
  • verb transitive To evade.

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

  • noun subtly skillful handling of a situation

Etymologies

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

[French, fineness, subtlety, from fin, fine; see fine.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English, from Middle French finesse, from Old French fin ("fine").

Examples

  • Besides the multiple formations he devised, his run-first philosophy helped toughen a program that used to be damned with the label "finesse."

    SFGate: Top News Stories

  • One face is very elegant and fine, close to Roman é e-Conti in finesse; the other side is more abrupt, monastic even.

    Searching for Perfection

  • There's a certain finesse required for pulling off unforgettable sci-fi movies and I really hope Neil has it - I don't want a story with potential like this one becoming the next Jumper.

    Shia LaBeouf Cast in Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields « FirstShowing.net

  • Gergiev, his players, and his stable of Kirov singers are often ragged but what they lack in finesse or sheer lyrical beauty they more than make up for with gusto.

    Archive 2006-10-01

  • Gergiev, his players, and his stable of Kirov singers are often ragged but what they lack in finesse or sheer lyrical beauty they more than make up for with gusto.

    And they're off...

  • One finesse is that the sample can be in a solution, in the case of proteins their natural environment in the cell.

    Information for the Public - The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2002

  • Why does the mention of the word finesse incite so much anger inside an NFL locker room?

    Sports News : CBSSports.com

  • There were many times it seemed like Brees could spell the word finesse twice before anybody came close to him.

    Sports News : CBSSports.com

  • Yet when I went around the locker room asking Saints players why hearing the word finesse next to their team name upset them, it only seemed to ignite them.

    Sports News : CBSSports.com

  • And left another light on other cheek bright li’en: I fain finesse my chiders when they mention him,

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

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