Here is a sentence from a novel which I can't understand exactly:

"I faced forward and templed my fingers in front of my mouth, trying to give the impression that I wasn't talking to anyone at all."

I don't know what temple means here. Dictionary.reference.com only gives definitions for it as a noun, not as a verb.

I think this character covered his mouth with his fingers so hide the movement of his mouth. But what does temple mean as a verb?

  • It is worth noting that templing can also refer to rubbing ones temples to soothe headaches or to try and focus. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


The more common usage is tented fingers. See below for the configuration:

enter image description here

  • 3
    'Steepled' is used too, in fact I'd use steepled for the picture shown and expect 'tented' to include all 4 fingers of each hand meeting their opposite numbers to form a ridge line. I'm not entirely sure which I'd expect for 'templed'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 9:11
  • @Spagirl - I'd expect all four fingers for 'templed'.
    – AndyT
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 10:54
  • @Spagirl - Agreed. And with a slightly different finger configuration (the tips are against the palms rather than the back of the hands) you get the old children's rhyme, "This is the church, " (then raising the index fingers) "and this is the steeple. Open the doors" (pushing the wrists forward and separating the thumbs to show the fingers) "and see all the people". Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 18:04
  • Then you make a loose fist with the curled fingers tighter at the pinkie, loosest at the index so that they form steps and walk the thumb of the other hand up them 'here's the minister climbing the stairs', then with the thumb representing the minister in the pulpit, make him bob his head, 'here's the minister saying his prayers'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 0:49


Hands held together with forefingers outstretched and touching pad to pad, with the rest of the fingers clasped.

2010, James LePore, A World I Never Made, page 251: Again Abdullah listened intently, his eyes closed, his ten fingers forming a temple of his hands in front of him.

This definition supports the image posted by @deadrat.

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