I'd like to use "digitally challenged" to refer to someone who is missing part or all of a finger, but it sounds like I'm talking about someone who doesn't know how to use computers. Are there any phrases, ideally somewhat humorous in nature, that I can use to refer to people who are missing part or all of a finger?

Example usage:

Steer clear of that izakaya. I've heard some of the patrons are [alternative to "digitally challenged"].

  • Why would patrons with missing fingers be a reason to avoid an izakaya? Oct 23, 2016 at 10:20
  • @JanusBahsJacquet They're probably yakusa members, Japanese gangsters.
    – Jacinto
    Oct 23, 2016 at 10:28
  • @Jacinto Oh yeah, that would make sense, I suppose. Oct 23, 2016 at 10:29

4 Answers 4


If you lack one eye you’re one-eyed, and if you lack one leg you’re one-legged. It then stands to reason that if you lack one finger you’re nine-fingered.

And people have used this before. Here's Sam talking to Frodo, who had lost a finger in a fight (emphasis mine in all quotes):

‘What a tale we have been in, Mr. Frodo, haven’t we?’ he said. ‘I wish I could hear it told! Do you think they’ll say: Now comes the story of Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom? And then everyone will hush […]’ (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of The King)

After that they gave Frodo the title “Nine-fingered”, says The Encyclopedia of ARDA.

Of course that was in Middle Earth. Back on our Earth, Chishō Takaoka (1896-1944), a geisha who chopped off one of her fingers to make some sort of point, became internationally famous as the “Nine-fingered Geisha” (Wikipedia). And Japanese yakusa gangsters that chop off one of their own fingers, presumably of the sort that haunt your izakaya, are often referred to as nine-fingered:

He employs a bodyguard who doubles as a chauffeur, an ex-yakuza who cut off his pinkie finger years ago as a gesture of apology to a gang superior. Adelstein says he needs a car and a nine-fingered driver in order to avoid the subway, where a hit man might shove him in front of a train. (Peter Hessler, “All Due Respect,” The New Yorker, Jan 9, 2012.)

Despite the folklore surrounding groups, the modern-day yakuza are entrepreneurs, rather than the tattooed, nine-fingered thugs in white suits wielding samurai swords of popular imagination; (Jake Adelstein, “Mobsters on a mission: How Japan’s mafia launched an aid effort”, Independent, 8 April 2011.)

If someone lacks more than one finger you could just adjust the number: an eight-fingered pianist, a seven-fingered shark handler. If an indeterminate number of fingers are missing, perhaps single-digit-fingered?


You can always use the loanword sans (without):

Steer clear of that izakaya. I've heard some of the patrons are sans fingers.

Perhaps the most famous use of sans comes from Shakespeare ("All the world's a stage" from As You Like It):

Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Oxford Living Dictionaries: sans

Wikipedia: All the world's a stage


What about fingerless:

Steer clear of that izakaya. I've heard some of the patrons are fingerless.

This doesn't imply that the person has only lost one finger, but you could qualify it by saying partially fingerless.


The Japanese term is Yubitsume and it could be understood by Anglophones if they were exposed to Japanese manga and movies as many of them depict it.

When I lived in Japan, it was not uncommon to see a person with an amputated finger. I used the term "shortened finger" and it was perfectly understood by Anglophones and Japanese to mean a person who underwent Yubitsume. Your example:

Steer clear of that izakaya. I've heard some of the patrons have a shortened finger.

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