Put Your Finger On Something

Subscribe to Idioms Online on YouTube

Privacy | Contact

Subscribe to Idioms Online on YouTube

Meaning of Idiom 'Put Your (or one's) Finger On Something'

To put one's finger on something is to be able to understand something or know the reason for it; to describe something; to identify something. 1,2,3


This expression is usually used in the negative, as in "I can't put my finger on it."


"There is something familiar about that guy, but I can't put my finger on it."

"I know there is something wrong with these financial records," said the investigator, "but I can't quite put my finger on what it is."

"I've been trying to fix my car for a week with no success but my cousin, who is a whiz at engines, put his finger on the problem after just a few seconds."


Used since the late 1800's.

The allusion here is to looking through a written document or book, viewing a piece of art, etc. and physically laying one's finger on some important aspect, fact, etc.

1. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

More Finger Idioms
Green Thumb (have a)

More Finger Idioms

This page contains one or more affiliate links. See full affiliate disclosure.

© 2018 by IdiomsOnline.