green thumb

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green thumb (plural green thumbs)

  1. (US, idiomatic) A natural skill for gardening.
    Synonym: green fingers
    Wow, did you plant this entire garden on your own? You really must have a green thumb.
    • 1987, Lyall Watson, The dreams of dragons: riddles of natural history:
      Everyone knows someone who has a "green thumb," who seems to be able to get plants to grow well just by being around, by talking or even playing music []
    • 2003, Barbara Damrosch, The Garden Primer:
      [] they leave gardening to those who presumably have lots of time to read and better yet, have a "green thumb."
    • 2006, Des Kennedy, The Passionate Gardener: Adventures of an Ardent Green Thumb:
      Oh, I'll never have a green thumb, no matter how long I stay at it. Nothing ever seems to work for me. Everything I plant dies.
  2. (US) A person with this skill.
    I should ask the green thumb next door what she recommends for my droopy daffodils.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Chiefly used in the form “have a green thumb”.
  • In UK English the corresponding expression is to describe someone as “having green fingers” or “being green-fingered”.


  • Canadian French: pouce vert (calque)
  • German: grüner Daumen (calque)


See also[edit]