Finger-pointing and point the finger

The expressions finger-pointing and point the finger are idioms. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common sayings finger-pointing and point the finger, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.

Finger-pointing means to accuse someone of wrongdoing, to assign blame to someone, to indicate someone’s guilt. Usually, finger-pointing is considered counterproductive because energy is put into making sure one is not found responsible for a problem rather than finding a solution to that problem. Finger-pointing is a hyphenated noun; point the finger is a verb phrase. Related phrases are points the finger, pointed, the finger, pointing the finger. The image is of gesticulation, expressing one’s idea through nonverbal communication rather than spoken words, by hand gestures in which one points the index finger or forefinger at the object of one’s accusation. The popularity of the phrase finger-pointing didn’t rise until the mid-twentieth century.


In California and elsewhere, the winners in last week’s election are celebrating and the losers are engaging in rationalizations and finger-pointing. (The Mountain Democrat)

While the Hartlepool manager admits things need to improve, he wants to see less finger-pointing and protect players such as Williams. (The Hartlepool Mail)

When you understand those things, you will have a better idea about where to point the finger at where Elway got it wrong, and how he needed to correct it. (Sports Illustrated)

Barbarians point the finger at RFU over two Covid breaches by 13 players which led to late cancellation of England clash at Twickenham – with stars claiming they had permission to go out (The Daily Mail)

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