Five-finger Discount

Meaning of Idiom ‘Five-finger Discount’

A five-finger discount refers to an act of shoplifting or stealing from a retail shop. 1Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,2Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.

Usage

Five-finger discount is usually reserved for acts of shoplifting but it can be applied generally to any theft.

Examples Of Use

“How did you get that necklace?” asked Alice. “I used my five-finger discount,” said Cody.

“Why would a famous actress need to use a five-finger discount?” asked Fred. “It’s not about the money,” said Natalie. “It’s a compulsion.”

“I always get a discount when I shop, said Gordon. “A five-finger discount, that is!”

Five-finger discount idiom meaning

Origin

This idiom has been used since at least the later 1960s but became popular during the 1970s and ’80s, especially in metropolitan areas. A discount refers to some amount being deducted from the price of something. A five-finger discount alludes to using ones “five fingers” or hand to steal something and thus get it for free, a one-hundred percent discount.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.