phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

To put on the long finger

Posted by ESC on February 25, 2003

In Reply to: To put on the long finger posted by masakim on February 24, 2003

: : : : : while most people agree on the meaning of this phrase, I am curious to know if anyone can fill me in on the origin of it....

: : : : I've never heard the expression (I live in the U.S.). What does it mean and how is it used?

: : : It means "to postpone something indefinitely." It is in common usage here in Ireland and, according to one website, is an Irish colloquialism, which I hadn't realised. "Méar fada" is Irish for "middle finger." The Dictionary of Hiberno-English has: "on the méar fhada," postponed indefinitely. 'Fraid I have absolutely no idea why it has this meaning.

: : I've never heard it in the UK. I guess it hasn't travelled far, and may even be regional within Ireland.

: Jonathon Green labels it "Irish."

: put on the long finger, to phr [20C] (Irish) to postpone indefinitely. [one pushes it as far away as one can]
: From Cassell's Dictionary of Slang

I couldn't find anything in my references. I am wondering if it could have anything to do with tying a string on your finger to remember something?