The old names for the fingers are—
Thumb (Anglo-Saxon thuma).
Towcher (the finger that touches), foreman, or pointer. This was
called by the Anglo-Saxons the scite-finger, i.e. the shooting
Long-man or long finger.
Lech-man or ring-finger. The former means “medical finger,” and
the latter is a Roman expression, “digitus annularis.” Called by
the Anglo-Saxons the gold-finger.
Little-man or little finger. Called by the Anglo-Saxons the
Fingers. Ben Jonson says -
The thumb, in chiromancy, we give to Venus:
The fore-finger to Jove; the midst to Saturn;
The ring to Sol, the least to Mercury
Alchemist, i. 2.
His fingers are all thumbs.
Said of a person awkward in the use of his hands. Ce sont les
deux doigts de la main.
Fingers before Forks
This Vulcan was a smith, they tell us,
That first invented tongs and bellows;
For breath and fingers did their works
(We'd fingers long before we'd forks).
King: Art of Love.
I have it at my fingers' ends.
I am quite familiar with it and
can do it readily. It is a Latin proverb (Scire tanquam ungues
), where the allusion is to the statuary, who knows every
item of his subject by the touch. (See
Costard: Go to; thou hast it ad dunghill, at the fingers' ends, as they say.
Holofernes: O, I smell false Latin: dunghill for unguem.
—Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost, v. l.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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