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The answer to Is a thumb also a finger? here on English stackexchange never addressed the "why".

Why is it that thumbs aren't generally considered fingers? Thumbs have one joint less than the "true fingers", sure, but as do big toes to other toes, and they're still "toes." Thumbs are opposite to other digits, sure, but if that's the deciding criterion, wouldn't the phrase "opposable thumb" a little redundant? Not to mention, "opposability" seems to be on a spectrum, from "non-opposable" to "peudo-opposable" to "opposable", and they're still called "thumbs."

  • One of the answers posted on the older question had this to say From etymonline one gets the idea that the idea behind thumb is stout or thick. So the logic of the naming probably is "the stout/thick finger" with drop of the word finger. But because it was posted five years later, it didn't get any recognition, until now that is. – Mari-Lou A Dec 29 '17 at 20:26
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    books.google.com/ngrams/… – Jim Dec 29 '17 at 21:39
  • youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=T94CAgBwMgs Even the Oxford Dictionary(ries?) says it's more advisable to not consider thumbs "fingers". – Vun-Hugh Vaw Dec 29 '17 at 22:44
  • If I ask how many fingers do you have ? Do you answer 'ten' ? Or do you answer 'eight' ? – Nigel J Dec 30 '17 at 5:59
  • This is not a question about English but about human anatomy. – AmE speaker Dec 31 '17 at 19:08
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It's possible that its shape has something to do with it, quite apart from and because of its being opposable, unlike 'regular' fingers.

From the Oxford dictionary online:

The word ‘thumb’ is from Old English thūma and is related to Dutch duim and German Daumen. All these words can be traced back to an Indo-European root shared by the Latin verb tumere, meaning 'to swell', which gave us the English words tumescent, tumulus, tumour, and tumid, among others.

This ties with the comment made by @Mary-Lou A.

One of the answers posted on the older question had this to say:

From etymonline one gets the idea that the idea behind thumb is stout or thick. So the logic of the naming probably is "the stout/thick finger" with the word "finger" being dropped.

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