by Kristin Jannotti
Many people believe different things about what is called the thumb. Is it or is it not a finger?
Lots of people think that it is not, mainly because all of the other fingers are so titled: index finger, middle finger, ring finger, pinky finger, and the thumb is not called the thumb finger.
However, I read a post on the web about it that said:
"My understanding is that, scientifically speaking, the thumb is indisputably a finger, but conventional usage sometimes sets it apart, meaning in effect that it's not a finger."**
In other words, how we say the thumb’s name makes us think it is not a finger, but really, that has nothing to do with it.
Is your thumb attached to your hand? Yes. Do you use it to pick things up? Yes.
Now, at this point, some people might prove their point by lifting something without using their thumb. True, you can pick things up without it, but when you don’t think about it, your body automatically uses your thumb in the job. Besides, you can lift something without using your index, middle, ring, or pinky. It’s not just the thumb you can do it without.
Also, what about your feet? How many toes do you have? Five. And is anyone arguing about the biggest of them being a toe? No. And which finger does it replace? The thumb. On the right foot and hand, the big toe and thumb are each farthest left. On the left foot and hand, the big toe and thumb are each farthest right.
Think about it. If the thumb was not a finger, than why would everyone say they have five on each hand, and ten all together?
There was also another person who made their point of the thumb being a finger quite well. Check out this post:
Idiomatically it's spoken of as a finger (as well as being distinguished as a thumb). If someone says "I can count the number of times I've heard that on the fingers of one hand", he means "up to or including five", not "up to or including four".**
Even see how Merriam-Webster struggles to define the thumb in his or her dictionary: 1: the short thick digit of the human hand that is analogous in position to the big toe and differs from the other fingers in having only two phalanges…
Here is what Bob Cunningham has to say about this, and I agree:
The definition starts with calling the thumb a "digit". So far so good. But then in the same sentence there is "the other fingers", which implies that the thumb is, after all, a finger.**
I think I’ve proven my point here.
The thumb is, with no doubt, a finger.
*It's sad when I have so little time that I must get my daughter to write posts for me... and the blog improves as a result.
**all quotes are excerpted from the discussion linked above, at Vocaboly's alt.usage.english forum. How my 11 year old daughter found her way there is a question for the ages.