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Butterfingers

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  • Butterfingers is an interesting word that has been attributed to Charles Dickens. While Dickens certainly popularized the expression butterfingers, the earliest known use of the word goes back to the early 1600s. We will examine the definition of the word butterfingers, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    A butterfingers is a person who drops things easily, someone who is clumsy and is unable to hold on to things. Charles Dickens popularized the term when he used it in his work The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, published in 1836: “At every bad attempt at a catch, and every failure to stop the ball, he launched his personal displeasure at the head of the devoted individual in such denunciations as ‘Ah, ah! – stupid’ – ‘Now, butter-fingers’ – ‘Muff’ – ‘Humbug’ – and so forth.” However, the oldest known use of the word butterfingers occurred in a cook book written by Gervase Markham called The Well-Kept Kitchen, published in 1615. The idea behind the word is of a cook whose fingers are greased with butter, and therefore finds it difficult to hold things in her grasp. Butterfingers is also the name of a popular American candy bar, and is properly rendered with a capital letter.

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    Examples

    Imran must have been a safe pair of hands, because he didn’t have the reputation of a butterfingers. (The Nation)

    It was gorgeous until it started chipping about a month or so in (that was as much because I’m a butterfingers as anything else, though). (Forbes Magazine)

    If you’re a butterfingers on the bench press and that bar comes crashing down on your chest, your sternum (that’s the bone right in the middle) pays the price. (Men’s Fitness Magazine)

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