Cross Your Fingers

Keep your fingers crossed
I’ll keep my fingers crossed
Had my fingers crossed (white lie)

Meaning of Idiom ‘Cross Your (or one’s) Fingers

1. Cross your fingers means to hope for success or good luck. The variant keep your fingers crossed has the same meaning.

2. Based on the same idiom and superstition is the childhood practice of crossing one’s fingers behind one’s back when telling a small like, sometimes called a “little white lie.” The crossed fingers are meant to cancel out the consequences or evil that might befall the lie teller or, in other words, render it powerless. One might say, after telling a lie, “I had my fingers crossed,” meaning that the lie they told was only a white lie and doesn’t really matter. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.2Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,3Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

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This idiom is most often employed by one person saying to another person “cross your fingers” or “keep your fingers crossed.”

It is necessary here to differentiate the idiom(s) from the superstitious gesture they derived from and which may actually accompany them. When we say “I’m going for my job interview. Cross your fingers!” we are not actually asking another person to physically cross their fingers, but to wish us good luck. The person being addressed may or may not actually cross their fingers, but when one does so in modern times, it is usually somewhat humorous.

Examples Of Use

“The boss wants to meet with me today. I think I’m getting that raise! Cross your fingers.”

“I feel good about this scratch-off ticket. I’m going to win big. Here I go…cross your fingers!”

“I think we may be getting a really big Christmas bonus this year. Keep your fingers crossed.”

“I’m going to ask Christine to marry me,” said Andy. “I hope she says yes.” “Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed,” said Casey, “but of course she’s going to say yes.”

“I told mom that I didn’t have any candy at Jackie’s house, but I had my fingers crossed.”


Used since the early 1900s, this idiom arose from the practice of crossing one’s index and middle fingers as a way of enlisting Providence and protecting one from danger or evil or bringing good luck. This, in turn, is presumably a scaled-down version of the Christian practice of making the sign of the cross with one’s hand and arm. 4Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.

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