all fingers and thumbs


to be uncoordinated with one’s hands

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“I get really nervous when I go for job interviews. I can’t do anything right! Last time I dropped a cup of coffee all over my dress. I was ALL FINGERS AND THUMBS.”

Pop Phrases - BBC dot com

Did you
know?

all fingers and thumbs
idiom

- to move your hands in an awkward way

- extremely awkward or clumsy

- to do something with your hands in a clumsy way and keep making mistakes while you are doing it

Cambridge Dictionary / Merriam-Webster / Cobuild Dictionary


ORIGIN

An expression dating from the 16th century for clumsiness or lack of manual dexterity.

It is ironic that the thumb should be singled out for an expression of clumsiness because the transverse human thumb gives Homo Sapiens superb manual dexterity.


THUMBS ARE THE NEW FINGERS

Being ‘all fingers and thumbs’ indicates a lack of coordination. However, the rise of smart phones and other hand-held technology means that the human hand could be leading to a physical mutation.

Research is showing that the thumbs of teenagers and young adults have overtaken their fingers as the hand’s most muscled and dexterous digit.

In Japan, such is the extent of this change, that young people have been nicknamed the ‘thumb tribe’ or the ‘thumb generation’. Instead of using fingers for common tasks such as pointing or ringing doorbells, they have started using their thumbs.

“The relationship between technology and the users of technology is mutual, we are changing each other”, said Dr Sadie Plant, author of a global study – “Thumbs are the new fingers”, she said.


THUMB COMMON IDIOMS

- a rule of thumb = an approximation or guideline, a general principle developed through experiential rather than scientific means

- twiddling one’s thumbs = to be waiting with nothing useful to do, to pass the time by twirling one’s thumbs

- green-thumbed = describing someone who can grow plants successfully

- brown thumb = describing someone who has a lack of skill in gardening or growing plants, such that they end up dying or fail to grow at all

- thumb one’s nose at somebody/something = to show no respect for somebody/something, sometimes by making a rude sign with one’s thumb on the end of one’s nose

- thumbs down = a sign or indication of disapproval or refusal

- under the thumb of (someone) = to be under another’s authoritarian control

- stand (or stick) out like a sore thumb = to be very obviously and often embarrassingly different from the surrounding people or things

- thumb (or hitch) a ride = to get a ride from a passing motorist


SYNONYMS
- for lacking dexterity in the use of the hands, or of instruments

accident-prone, ALL FINGERS AND THUMBS, all thumbs, amateurish, blundering, blunderous, botching, bumbling, bungling, butterfingered, butterfingers, cack-handed, cloddish, clodhopping, clumsy, cumbersome, doltish, dorky, floundering, fumbling, gangling, gauche, gawkish, gawky, graceless, ham-fisted, ham-handed, having two left feet, having two left hands, heavy-handed, indelicate, inept, jerry-built, jerry-rigged, jury-rigged, klutzy, lumbering, maladroit, muddled, mutton-fisted, nubbly, puddingy, shambling, slobbish, thuggish, uncoordinated, uncouth, ungainly, unprecise, unskillful, wooden


SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“I’m ALL FINGERS AND THUMBS early in the morning.”


THANKS to Florian for pointing to today’s OWAD.


HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

https://donorbox.org/please-become-a-friend-of-owad-3

and,

Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

 

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