lift a finger

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



Compare 1769, Oxford Standard text, King James Bible, Matthew, xxiii, 4 — For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.


lift a finger (third-person singular simple present lifts a finger, present participle lifting a finger, simple past and past participle lifted a finger)

  1. (figuratively) To make minimal effort; to help as little as possible.
    • 1973, Kenya National Assembly Official Record (Hansard): June 12 - July 27, page 904,
      They weep when they see the country being so much exploited and yet nobody lifts a finger.
    • 2004, Gerald Shapiro, Little men: novellas and stories‎, page 6:
      You've known about it all along, you haven't lifted a finger, so don't come crying to me. I don't have time for it.
    • 2005, Larry T. McGehee, B. J. Hutto, Southern Seen: Meditations on Past and Present, page 80,
      Lifting a finger to greet is dangerous because it may make us feel guilty about not lifting a finger to help.
  2. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see lift,‎ finger.
    • 2010, Katharine Rapoport, Violin For Dummies,
      So if your next note involves lifting a finger, you need to plan to lift the finger promptly to above its spot on the string so that it's ready to play again at any time.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Most often used in the negative.