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Can You Call Your Thumb a Finger?

Updated on November 22, 2023Grammar
  • A thumb is a digit, but not technically a finger.
  • Many people don’t make the distinction between thumbs and other digits.

How many fingers do you have? Your answer might depend on whether you consider your thumb to be a finger. Let’s look into whether or not you can accurately call your thumb a finger.

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Finger definition

If you look up finger on, you will find this definition: “Each of the four slender jointed parts attached to either hand . . .” Doesn’t this definition seem to exclude the thumb? Why exclude it?

Thumb vs. finger

Your thumb is different from your fingers. Your fingers have two joints and three bones called phalanges or phalanxes. A thumb only has one joint and two phalanges. Anatomically, a thumb is unique. The position also sets the thumb apart. The thumb is out to the side of the hand and lower than the four fingers. So if a thumb is not really a finger, what is it?

Thumb definition

Thumb refers to the first digit of the human hand, set apart and opposable to the other four digits of the hand. Appendages like your fingers, toes, and thumbs are digits. So humans usually have five digits per hand, one of which is the thumb.

Thumb and finger examples

  • Some call stealing the “five-fingered discount.”
  • The ultrasound technician noted that the fetus had ten fingers.
  • The robot had something like a hand, but it didnt have four fingers and a thumb.
  • She curled her fingers to the tip of her thumb to make a zero.
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