Sticky fingers

Sticky fingers is an idiom that has been in use for over one hundred years. An idiom is a 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, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, 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 and popular expressions that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom sticky fingers, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Sticky fingers is a phrase that describes someone who steals things, someone who has a propensity for taking things that don’t belong to him, someone who is a thief. Most often, the idiom sticky fingers describes a petty thief like a pickpocket. The criminal in question is said to have sticky fingers. The expression sticky fingers came into use in the mid-1800s and calls to mind an image of paper money sticking to someone’s fingers, as if the criminal weren’t really planning to steal.


Diners across the city have sticky fingers — and not just the kind that come from eating chicken wings. (The New York Post)

Still, it’s hard to point fingers at a kleptomaniac when you have sticky fingers too. (The Guardian)

“Longwe has sticky fingers and has been stealing from me.” (The South African)

Still, just in case anyone has sticky fingers or unkind intentions, there’s a little added insurance so the weed stays put. (The News Journal)

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