What would you like to do?
- My parents are British/South Africans and still use this today
with my siblings and me - and even with their American grandkids. I
always confuse my American friends when I use the expression.
My understanding is that it's a British version of America's "Cross your fingers," which basically means, "Hope that this happens."
I also assume that the origin comes from the physical act of taking your thumb and placing it in the palm of your hand with the tip of the thumb pointing out from between your middle finger and your index finger (as your fingers are wrapped down in a fist gesture). Since usually this is done in both hands while giving the gesture of "Holding thumbs," the plural is used since you're doing it with both thumbs.
- A German expression indicating that you are wishing someone
well or luck in something is to say you will "press your thumb" for
them. It is done with the thumb of one hand only, bending it inside
the index finger and pressing on the outer joint of the thumb with
the fingers curled around it.
This expression may also be used in the Netherlands, leading to the South African use of it as discussed above. The expression to "Cross your fingers" is common in the UK and parts of Europe and has been used there for centuries.
- Both the above contain correct elements: in South Africa, with Afrikaans and English being spoken alongside, one gets many Germanic expression taken into South African English. Thus, the Afrikaans expression "Duim vashou" has been directly translated and you find English-speaking South Africans using "Hold thumbs" instead of "Crossing fingers."
- "Holding thumbs" must not be confused with the physical act of taking your thumb and placing it in the palm of your hand with the tip of the thumb pointing out from between your middle finger and your index finger. It is known in many countries as the"fig sign" and means very different things in different cultures. It is a very rude gesture in South Africa, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Serbia and many other countries, similar to raising your middle finger to someone. In some countries it is regarded as a good-luck gesture, but it's best to avoid it entirely unless you know its local usage.
154 people found this useful
Was this answer useful?
Thanks for the feedback!
Wherever people spoke. People have made slang and idioms from the moment they invented language.
If you're "all thumbs," you are clumsy or awkward - imagine trying to do anything with five thumbs instead of four fingers and one thumb! This idiom usually refers to fi…ne motor tasks. It means to be clumsy
To hold your horses means to relax and wait. For example if a mechanic is fxing your car and you ask "Is it done yet?" every minute, he might tell you to hold your horse…s.
Gardeners who worked with earthenware pots found their thumbs stained green from algae growing on the outside of these pots, according to one theory. Another theory claims… that King Edward the First loved green peas, and had serfs shell them. Whichever serf had the greenest thumb won some sort of prize.
to be under one's thumb, or to be totally controlled by that person was first recorded in 1586. A considerable number of gestures from past times involve the thumb. It was tho…ught that if the thumb was folded into the palm of the hand and the fingers closed around it, it was a protection against evil
idioms in general have no specific date in which they became in use, rather, one or two were in use from various areas of society- the Bible for one, then other idioms were fo…und and put to use. origins of individual idioms can often be traced back to dates,
It means to hitchhike, which means you walk along the roadside holding your hand out with thumb pointed in the direction you want to go, and see if you can get anyone to stop …and offer you a ride in their automobile. In case you have not thought about it, this is a very dangerous thing to do nowadays - it was safer back when this term was invented.
I think it comes frm the horse races. The announcer person would tell them to hold their horses until everyone was ready and then he would let them go.
The popular idiom "hold the fort" or "hold down the fort" means to watch, manage, or protect an area while the speaker making the request is away.
It was a phrase. "Hold on to your hat, there is going to be a bumpy road ahead"!
"Hold your tongue" means don't just say what comes to mind - or think before you talk.
The hardware store owner told the impatient customer "Hold your horses, I'm coming!" Though you might be anxious to know how you did on the test, you will have to hold your ho…rses until all of the papers are graded.
To hope for the best
To Stop or to wait!
It means someone who is physically awkward, especially with the hands. There is a proverb from 1546 - 'when he should get aught, each finger is a thumb'
No, it is a metaphor comparing someone's thumb to a magical item.
It means someone who is very good at things like gardening and growing things.