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Could anyone give me an explanation of the meaning of "get one's finger in the air" and the usage of it?

  • could you give some context for the usage? There are a variety of possible explanations, dependant on context. – Matt E. Эллен Feb 21 '12 at 13:37
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You "get your finger in the air" means to "go with the crowd", "go with the flow". You want to see, where the wind is coming from - usually by wetting the finger before. A person "putting his finger in the air" is unlikely to come up with original, individual ideas or solutions. And decisions are made unscientifically, without backing evidence.

Examples:

The "finger in the air" approach to enterprise-wide IT where you have no clear view of cost or quality is to go with Microsoft.

Stick a finger in the air of local politics these days, and you'll probably detect a strong wind pushing against new health care reform efforts like Measure ...

See here.

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  • @Ralph, thanks for your detailed explanation! Now I have gripped it. :-) – didxga Oct 30 '10 at 5:41
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In my experience, the phrase "put a finger in the air," used in a business and IT context, is another way of saying "make a high-level estimate." It's often an "order of magnitude" estimate (e.g., five or six figures; days/weeks/months), based on the speaker's experience or gut. It is another term for "SWAG" (Sophisticated Wild-Ass Guess). It does come from the practice of estimating the wind's direction by wetting one's finger and holding it up in the air.

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Raising a finger in the air is sometimes seen as an outward manifestatation of an inward acknowledgment of GOD on a subliminal level. Not to be confused with submission to GOD or conformity to GOD, but rather a simple acknowledgement of the existence of. Sportsmen sometimes do this, namely soccer when scoring a goal a striker will raise a finger in the air, recognising Christ Jesus as GOD and the provider of the particular Goal and thanking him for the blessing of providence.

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  • Can you provide any evidence that the phrase in question has the meaning you suggest? The other answers seem to have a different take on it. – Cameron Nov 6 '12 at 9:00
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    @Cameron, Luke seems to be ignoring your question (or perhaps still looking for a reply). Anyhow, my take on a striker raising a finger in the air after a goal is that they are proclaiming “I'm number one!” – so basically the opposite of Luke's explanation. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Aug 31 '13 at 18:45

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