leech-finger

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English leche fingir, læchefinger, from Old English lǣċefinger (fourth finger, leech-finger), equivalent to leech (physician) +‎ finger. Compare Old Norse lǽknisfingr (leech-finger), Icelandic læknisfingur.

Noun[edit]

leech-finger (plural leech-fingers)

  1. (anatomy) The finger next to little finger; third finger; ring-finger.
    • 1973, Godfried Storms, Anglo-Saxon magic:
      Sing three Our Fathers on your leechfinger, and write around the sore.
    • 2005, Kisma Reidling, Faery Initiations:
      The Leech finger has Coll on it, the sage Hazel, who is the master physician, and is surmounted by Saille, the Willow of enchantment.
    • 2006, Catherine E. Karkov, Sarah Larratt Keefer, Karen Louise Jolly, The Place of the Cross in Anglo-Saxon England:
      Similarly, the other wound item above it, for an unknown swelling (uncufrum swyle) involves singing the Pater Noster thrice over 'your leechfinger' (ðine læcefinger, the middle finger) and writing the Latin formula around the sore as well as speaking it.
    • 2007, Desmond Morris, The Naked Woman:
      For some, simply to stroke the ring finger over a wound was enough to heal it and it eventually became known as the healing finger or the leech finger. In parts of Europe it is still used today as the only finger suitable for scratching the skin.
    • 2007, Charles Hodgson, Carnal Knowledge:
      This same document tells us that this same finger was once called the "physician finger," from the Latin digitits medicus, and that it was also called the "leech finger," since doctors were known as "leeches" before they were called "physicians.
    • 2012, Mark Forsyth, The Etymologicon:
      The fourth finger has a strange anatomical property that gives it both its ancient and modern names: the leech finger and the ring finger.

Synonyms[edit]