From Middle English fīnesse (“degree of excellence; (of metal) fineness, purity”), from Middle French finesse, Old French finesse (“fineness; delicacy; slenderness”), from fine, fin (“fine, thin”) (from Latin fīnis (“end”); compare Middle English fīn (“of superior quality; precious, valuable; admirable, pleasing; pure, refined; fineness, purity; delicate, exquisite, fine; sharp, thin”)) + -esse (“suffix forming nouns describing the condition of being something”).
The verb is derived from the noun.
finesse (countable and uncountable, plural finesses)
- (uncountable) Skill in the handling or manipulation of a situation. [from c. 1520]
- Synonym: finessing
- (uncountable) The property of having elegance, grace, refinement, or skill. [from mid 16th c.]
- (countable) An adroit manoeuvre. [from mid 16th c.]
- (countable, card games) In bridge, whist, etc.: a technique which allows one to win a trick, usually by playing a card when it is thought that a card that can beat it is held by another player whose turn is over. [from early 18th c.]
skill in handling or manipulation of a situation
property of having elegance, grace, refinement, or skill
(card games) technique to win a trick
finesse (third-person singular simple present finesses, present participle finessing, simple past and past participle finessed)
- (transitive, chiefly Canada, US, politics) To evade (a problem, situation, etc.) by using some clever argument or strategem. [from mid 20th c.]
- (transitive, card games) To play (a card) as a finesse. [from mid 18th c.]
- (transitive, intransitive) To handle or manage carefully or skilfully; to manipulate in a crafty way. [from mid 18th c.]
- 2017, Kendrick Lamar, Humble
- Finesse a nigga with some counterfeits, but now I'm countin' this Parmesan where my accountant lives.
- Synonym: zhoosh (slang)
- (intransitive, card games) To attempt to win a trick by finessing. [from mid 18th c.]
Terms derived from finesse (verb)
to evade using some clever argument or strategem
to play (a card) as a finesse
to handle or manage carefully or skilfully; to manipulate in a crafty way
to attempt to win a trick by finessing
- ^ “fīnesse, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 7 October 2018; “finesse” (US) / “finesse” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
- ^ “fīn, adj.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 7 October 2018.
- ^ “finesse, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2016.
- ^ “finesse, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2016.