Finger: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Finger

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fingers of the human left hand.
Hand left.svg
Thumb · Index · Middle · Ring · Little

A finger is a type of digit, an organ of manipulation and sensation found in the hands of humans and other primates.[1][2] Normally humans have five digits, termed phalanges,[2] on each hand (exceptions are polydactyly, hypodactyly and digit loss). The first digit is the thumb, followed by index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and little finger or pinky. Some other languages use the same generic term for all five digits of a hand.

English dictionaries describe finger as meaning either one of the five digits including the thumb, or one of the four excluding the thumb (in which case they are numbered from 1 to 4 starting with the index finger closest to the thumb).[1][2][3] Linguistically, it appears that the original sense was to include the thumb as a finger: *penkwe-ros[citation needed] (also rendered as *penqrós[citation needed]) was, in the inferred Proto-Indo-European language, a suffixed form of *penkwe (or *penqe), "five", which has[citation needed] given rise to many Indo-European-family words (tens of them defined in English dictionaries) that involve or flow from concepts of fiveness.

Chimpanzees have lower limbs that are specialized for manipulation, and (arguably) have fingers on their lower limbs as well. The term 'finger' is not applied to the digits of most other animals, such as canines, felines, or ungulates, none of which can engage in fine manipulation with their forelimbs as a primate can.



Each finger may flex and extend, abduct and adduct, and so also circumduct. Flexion is by far the strongest movement. In humans, there are two large muscles that produce flexion of each finger, and additional muscles that augment the movement. Each finger may move independently of the others, though the muscle bulks that move each finger may be partly blended, and the tendons may be attached to each other by a net of fibrous tissue, preventing completely free movement. This is particularly noticeable when trying to extend the fourth digit (third finger) with the others flexed.

Fingers are usually moved under conscious control. In humans, they are used for grasping, typing, grooming, writing, caressing, and many other activities. They are also used in signaling, as when wearing a wedding ring, finger counting or when communicating in sign language.

Aside from the genitals, the fingertips possess the highest concentration of touch receptors and thermoreceptors among all areas of the human skin, making them extremely sensitive to temperature, pressure, vibration, texture, and moisture. Thus fingers are commonly used as sensory probes to ascertain properties of objects encountered in the world, and so they are prone to injury.

Fingers do not contain muscles other than arrector pili muscles. The muscles that move the finger joints are in the palm and forearm. The long tendons that deliver motion from the forearm muscles may be observed to move under the skin at the wrist and on the back of the hand.


Each of the fingers has unique cultural and functional significance. From the thumb on the radial side to the ulnar side of the hand, the fingers are in this order:

  1. Thumb, often considered not to be a finger, but is.
  2. Index finger, also called 'pointer finger', or 'forefinger'
  3. Middle finger, often the longest
  4. Ring finger, also known as fourth finger
  5. Little finger, also known as 'pinky'

Finger ratio

One of the major finger issues in modern science is John T. Manning's digit ratio, is a finger ratio - which concerns the ratio of the 2nd finger (index finger) and the 4th finger (ring finger).[4] In 2008 John Manning presented an update on his finger ratio research, titled: 'The finger book'.

Anomalies and diseases

A rare anatomical variation affects 1 in 500 humans,[5] in which the individual has more than the usual number of digits; this is known as polydactyly. A human may also be born without one or more fingers. Extra fingers can be functional. In one individual with seven fingers not only used them but claimed that they “gave him some advantages in playing the piano.”[6]

Phalanges are commonly fractured. A damaged tendon can cause significant loss of function in fine motor control, such as with a mallet finger.

The fingers are commonly affected by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Diabetics often use the fingers to obtain blood samples for regular blood sugar testing. Raynaud's phenomenon is a neurovascular disorder that affects the fingers.

Brain representation

Each finger has an orderly somatotopic representation on the cerebral cortex in the somatosensory cortex area 3b,[7] part of area 1[8] and a distributed, overlapping representations in the supplementary motor area and primary motor area.[9]

The somatosensory cortex representation of the hand is a dynamic reflection of the fingers on the external hand: in syndactyly people have a clubhand of webbed, shortened fingers. However, not only are the fingers of their hands fused, but the cortical maps of their individual fingers also form a club hand. The fingers can be surgically divided to make a more useful hand. Surgeons did this at the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery in New York to a 32-year-old man with the initials O. G.. They touched O. G.’s fingers before and after surgery while using MRI brain scans. Before the surgery, the fingers mapped onto his brain were fused close together; afterward, the maps of his individual fingers did indeed separate and take the layout corresponding to a normal hand.[10]

Colloquial imagery usage

The term 'finger' appears in common, colloquial linguistic imagery (Doodson, 2009):

  1. Il dito del piede (Italian) - referring to the 'finger of the foot' suggesting that the toe is merely[citation needed] a finger on the foot appendage
  2. 'Wrapped around the finger' - referring to a man's submitting to the requests of a woman regardless of his desire (or vice versa). Generally has negative connotations of not having control. Usage includes "my housemate is wrapped around his girlfriend's finger". Often considered weakness.
  3. Pointing the finger - referring to blaming an individual or object. Usually negatively connotated
  4. Finger snapping


  1. ^ a b Chambers 1998 page 603
  2. ^ a b c Oxford Illustrated pages 311,380
  3. ^ Oxford Advanced page 326
  4. ^ Mills, Michael (October 9, 2002). "Digit Ratio: A Pointer to Fertility, Behavior and Health by John T. Manning". Book review. Human Nature Review. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  5. ^ Greene, Alan (May 19, 1997). "Polydactylism". Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  6. ^ Dwight T. (1892). Fusion of hands. Memoirs of the Boston Society of Natural History, 4, 473-486.
  7. ^ van Westen D, Fransson P, Olsrud J, Rosén B, Lundborg G, Larsson EM. (2004). Fingersomatotopy in area 3b: an fMRI-study. BMC Neurosci. 5:28. PMID 15320953
  8. ^ Nelson AJ, Chen R. (2008). Digit somatotopy within cortical areas of the postcentral gyrus in humans. Cereb Cortex. 18(10):2341-51. PMID 18245039
  9. ^ Kleinschmidt A, Nitschke MF, Frahm J. (1997). Somatotopy in the human motor cortex hand area. A high-resolution functional MRI study. Eur J Neurosci. 9(10):2178-86. PMID 9421177
  10. ^ Mogilner A, Grossman JA, Ribary U, Joliot M, Volkmann J, Rapaport D, Beasley RW, Llinás RR. (1993). Somatosensory cortical plasticity in adult humans revealed by magnetoencephalography. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 90(8):3593-7. PMID 8386377

See also


  • The Chambers Dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. 2000 [1998]. ISBN 0-550-14005-X. 
  • The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary. Great Britain: Oxford University Press. 1976 [1975]. 
  • Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English. London: Oxford University Press. 1974 [1974]. ISBN 0-19-431102-3. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FINGER, one of the five members with which the hand is terminated, a digit; sometimes the word is restricted to the four digits other than the thumb. The word is common to Teutonic languages, cf. Dutch vinger and Ger. Finger; probably the ultimate origin is to be found in the root of the words appearing in Greek IrEUTE, Lat. quinque, five. (See SKELETON: A ppendicul ar.)

<< Fine arts

Finger-and-toe >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also finger




Old High German fingar


Finger m

  1. finger

Related terms

  • -fingerig, -fingrig
  • fingern
  • gefingert


  • Fingerabdruck
  • Fingerfertig
  • Fingerhandschuh
  • Fingernagel
  • Fingerschale
  • Fingerspitze
  • Fingersprache
  • Fingerzeig

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

One of the digits. In the Bible the term (missing hebrew text) is sometimes used in a figurative sense, denoting power, direction, or immediate agency. "Thy heavens, the works of thy fingers [of thy power]," says the Psalmist (Ps 83). "Tables of stone written with the finger [by the direction] of God" (Ex 31:18). On beholding the fourth plague, which they were unable to imitate, the magicians said: "This is the finger [power] of God" (ib. viii. 19). The finger is mentioned in the Bible as a measure of length (Jer 52:21). Putting forth the finger was an insulting gesture (Isa 58:9)—probably the thumb between the first and middle fingers.



Although each finger must have had a special designation, the names of only three are found in the Bible: (1) (missing hebrew text) , which, besides being a common name, means especially the index-finger; (2) (missing hebrew text) the thumb (in the Mishnah, (missing hebrew text) , (missing hebrew text) ); and (3) (missing hebrew text) , the ear-finger. In the Talmud the names of the five fingers are: (missing hebrew text) , the thumb; (missing hebrew text) , the index-finger; (missing hebrew text) , the middle finger; (missing hebrew text) , the ring-finger; and (missing hebrew text) , the ear-finger. Normal fingers and toes consist, according to the Mishnah, of six joints (Oh. i. 8). The fingers form the subject of certain Talmudical laws relating to the priestly benediction ( (missing hebrew text) (missing hebrew text) ). Only those priests whose fingers were without blemish were allowed to deliver the blessing (Meg. iv. 8). During its recital the priests stretched out the fingers (Soṭah 39b); in post-Talmudical times, however, the custom was to separate the fingers into pairs. A figurative image representing this division is generally carved on the tombstones of priests ("kohanim"). In rabbinical literature expressions in which the finger occurs are frequent.

To inquire into the mysteries of God is to put the finger in one's eye; so long as the finger remains therein the eye waters ("Batte Midrashim," i. 13). To put the finger in one's teeth is to give opportunity (Tosef., Nazir, iii. 287, §§ 2-6). "The finger of the heathen is therein," or "he has a share in it." Similar to the English expression "He has more wit in his little finger than you have in your whole body," is the following, found in Ab. R. Natan (ed. Schechter, p. 59). "The finger of Eleazar ben 'Arak out-weighs all the scholars together."

Haggadic Teachings.

The Haggadah sets forth the great value of the fingers by inferring from the words of Lamech pronounced on the birth of Noah, "This son shall comfort us . . . for the toil of our hands" (Gen 6:29), that Noah was the first who was provided with fingers (cited from the Midrash Abkir by Isaac Judah ha-Levi in "Pa'aneaḥ Raza," ad loc.). Each finger of the right hand of God, says a haggadah, had a special mission to fulfil: the ear-finger instructed Noah in the building of the ark; the ring-finger smote the Egyptians; the middle finger wrote the tablets of the Law; the index-finger showed the form of the shekel to be employed; the thumb and the whole hand shall inflict punishment on Esau (Pirḳe R. El. xlviii.; Yalḳ., Gen. 153, 56d).

According to a legend, Abraham was fed by the angel Gabriel, in the cavern where he was born, by being made to suck milk from his finger (Beer, "Leben Abrahams," pp. 3, 102). The same legend with some variations is current among the modern Arabs in the following form: In order to feed Abraham, God made water flow from one of his fingers; from another, milk; from a third, honey; from a fourth, juice of dates; and from the fifth, butter (Beer, l.c.).

Cabalistic Views.

A parallel is drawn by the cabalists between the ten fingers and the ten Sefirot. Because of this connection, says the "Baḥir," the priests deliver the benediction with outstretched fingers (§ 48). Man should not stretch out his fingers, except in prayer or in the priestly benediction, because of the mysterious connection existing between the ten fingers and the ten Sefirot (Zohar iii. 145a). The victory gained by Moses over Amalek through stretching out his hands is explained by the cabalists in this sense (Baḥya, "Wayeḥi," 71d). In the midrashic literature the ten fingers correspond to the Ten Commandments. Gershon ben Solomon and many other writers of the Middle Ages drew a parallel between the five fingers on each hand and the five senses. Each finger, according to them, stands in a natural connection with one of the senses.


Among the Jews of Germany and Austria it is customary to bend the thumb of the dead toward the palm of the hand in the form of a ד, and to draw over it the three middle fingers in the form of a ש, and to bend the little finger in half as a ג, in order that the whole may represent the name of God ( (missing hebrew text) ). In Russia and Palestine, among the Ashkenazim as well as among the Sephardim, it is customary to stretch out the fingers of the dead. But if the deceased was a prominent man, and there is a drought, the fingers are bent in order that he may be able to carry a paper containing a prayer for rain.

The squeezing of the thumb was believed to be a remedy against the evil eye. "He who fears an evil eye," says the Talmud, "let him put the thumb of the right hand into the left hand, and that of the left into the right" (Ber. 55b). The belief that the fingers have the power to cure maladies caused by the evil eye is still prevalent among the Sephardim in Palestine. Hands with outstretched fingers are painted on the outer walls of the houses to protect their inhabitants.

Bibliography: Löw, Die Finger, in the Kaufmann, Gedenkbuch; Krauss, in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, xv. 89: Grunwald, in Mitthcilungen des Vereins für die Jüdische Volkskunde, v. 66; Sefer Ḥasidim, p. 327.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
Facts about FingerRDF feed

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|A normal human hand with five digits]]

An abnormal human hand with five digits

A finger is a body part that sticks out from the hand. Each person normally has four fingers and one thumb on each hand.

Fingers and thumbs are types of digits. Sometimes the thumb is called a finger, but it is only made of 2 bones, instead of 3, so it is different from a finger. It is more correct to say that the hand has five digits:

  • one thumb
  • four fingers
Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address