Finagle means by devious methods. Finagle may take an object and function as a transitive verb, meaning to arrange by craftiness or trickery. Without an object, finagle functions as an intransitive verb and means to use craftiness or trickery. Related words are finagles, finagled, finagling and the noun, finagler.

Finagle originated in the United States in the 1920s from the dialectical fainaigue, which means to cheat or renege at cards.


Finagle’s Law is nearly the same as Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law states Anything that can go wrong, will. Finagle’s Law states Anything that can go wrong, will—and at the worst possible moment. The term Finagle’s Law was coined by John Campbell Jr., the editor of Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s through 1960s.


All week on social media, people posted selfies from the shows, and a few lucky folks managed to finagle their way backstage to pose with Bono and the boys. (The Boston Globe)

This Lieutenant on our ship was a finagler and traded a Silax Coffee and a couple of cases of beer for this jeep.  (The Bartlesville Examiner-Entrprise)

Meanwhile, former-Gov. Rick Perry is also out in the field trying to finagle the Republican nomination for himself. (The Houston Press)

Of course — if truth be told — Mr. Aragon was not actually trying to save the environment when he finagled the giveaway of municipal property and water rights in 2009. (The Pagosa Daily Post)

When, in 1936, she learned that the conductor Bruno Walter was about to publish a monograph on Gustav Mahler, she finagled a sneak peek at it. (The Wall Street Journal)

Countless variations of the law have developed, the most notable being Finagle’s Law, which states that anything that can go wrong will – and at the worst possible moment. (The Daily Mail)


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  2. 12July1947_Clifford_Martin says:

    Whenever I hear the word Finagle I get a mental image of someone called Cohen or Goldstein.

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