Green thumb and green fingers

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Green thumb and green fingers have been in use for an indeterminate amount of time, though the popularity of these two idioms peaked in the mid-1900s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Common idioms are used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. We will examine the meaning of the expressions green thumb and green fingers, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

The expressions green thumb and green fingers mean a talent for growing plants. Both green thumb and green fingers are nouns. Whether growing a vegetable garden, flower garden, grass lawn, shrubs or crops, a person who has a green thumb or green fingers is always able to grow plants successfully. A person with a green thumb or green fingers can transform a cottage garden, raised garden beds, a home garden, backyard, lawn or greenhouse with a little mulch, fertilizer, water and sunshine. Gardening is a hobby many enjoy for the ornamental qualities of garden plants, often grown in a small space that consists of annual flowering plants such as marigolds, geraniums and petunias, as well as perennial flowering plants such as roses, columbine and lilies. Containers or pots are a good alternative when a gardener does not have the time or space to dig garden beds. Larger areas allow a person with a green thumb or green fingers to grow a wide range of larger plants, shrubs, trees, vines and lawns. A farmer with a green thumb or green fingers may turns his talent to raising tomatoes, squash or other vegetables, as well as grains like oats or barley, or even garlic or herbs. The idioms green thumb and green fingers came into general use in the twentieth century, though older citations are available. There is some difficulty in discovering the roots of these phrases, though they seem to have come into use at roughly the same time. The general consensus is that the term is derived from the actual phenomenon of a gardener’s hands becoming stained by algae and crushed leaves while working with plants. Some believe it may be linked to the Green Man, a mysterious mythical icon found in many ancient religions symbolizing plants and their healthy growth. Perhaps the terms green thumb and green fingers are modeled on the Midas touch, referring to a story about a king whose touch turned items into gold. The expression green thumb is primarily the American version of the idiom, while green fingers is primarily the British version.


John Wright, a local citizen and retiree who is well known for his green thumb, takes care of the dazzling display of flowers that you see when driving along Front Street. (The Coalfield Progress)

LANDSCAPERS are trying to track down a thief with a green thumb who stole $380 worth of plants. (The Northern Daily Leader)

“I learned everything I know from my grandmother, who not only had a green thumb in the garden, but was an excellent cook herself.” (The Nevada Appeal)

Here’s our pick of the pleasingly priced planters that are top of the pots, providing the perfect frame for the fruits (and flowers) of your green fingers. (The Independent)

An interior design must-have, these terrariums will be sure to get your green fingers twitching. (The Evening Standard)

Children and teachers from three schools will use their green fingers to plant an area alongside the Wairoa River on August 28. (The New Zealand Herald)