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Thread subject: German "Good Luck" sayings
Name Date Message
Madeline 12/26/09 02:49 am About 6 weeks ago I was reading a Sci-Fi  book called Martians and Madness by a long deceased author, Fredric Brown,(1902-1972).  A woman in the story was wishing a friend good luck, by using the phrase, (hold thumbs). I was shocked, because the  first  time I ever heard it was on the cam message board from Veshnue Germany. I remember Anne UK1 and I having a good laugh about it. Has anyone here ever heard of that term used before? Apparently its been used in the USA, possibly in the 50's, or even earlier?Oh well, I just had to get this off my chest. What a waste of grey matted....LOL  Hey, Alex, maybe they could use this as a Jeperdy question???? I think it's time for me to go to bed.  zzzzzzzzzz
clyde 12/29/09 11:59 pm Hope this helps, Madeline. Nighty night!

What is the origin of the idiom 'to hold thumbs'?
In: Word and Phrase Origins

* My parents are British/South Africans and still use this today with my siblings and me - and even with their American grandkids. I always confuse my American friends when I use the expression.

My understanding is that it's a British version of America's "Cross your fingers," which basically means, "Hope that this happens.

I also assume that the origin comes from the physical act of taking your thumb and placing it in the palm of your hand with the tip of the thumb pointing out from between your middle finger and your index finger (as your fingers are wrapped down in a fist gesture). Since usually this is done in both hands while giving the gesture of "Holding thumbs" the plural is used since you're doing it with both thumbs.

* A German expression indicating that you are wishing someone well or luck in something is to say you will "press your thumb" for them. It is done with the thumb of one hand only, bending it inside the index finger and pressing on the outer joint of the thumb with the fingers curled around it.

This expression may also be used in the Netherlands, leading to the South African use of it as discussed above. The expression to "Cross your fingers" is common in the UK and parts of Europe and has been used there for centuries.

* Both the above contain correct elements: in South Africa, with Afrikaans and English being spoken alongside, one gets many Germanic expression taken into South African English. Thus, the Afrikaans expression "Duim vashou" has been directly translated and you find English-speaking South Africans using "Hold thumbs" instead of "Crossing fingers..
Madeline 12/30/09 12:50 am Thanks for the info. Clyde. It doesn't sound as silly as it did when one of the ladies translated something from their message board from German to English. The German language doesn't translate well into English. Not that " Cross Your Fingers" makes any more sense.

One more thought. I don't know if you remember when you were a little kid and one of your relatives would grab your nose between their index and middle finger and say " I've got your nose", then stick their thumb between those fingers pretending it is your nose. Oh weel, it was just a thought....LOL
Pam 12/30/09 10:13 am "Fingers Crossed" - We say it and do it here in England when we really hope that something will happen . I thought you did that in US too? So when I say my fingers are firmly crossed in the hope that we may see our Ospreys again in 2010 - it will help it to happen !! Maybe if we all crossed our fingers????
Nancy L 12/30/09 10:29 am Mine are crossed!
Kathy 12/30/09 10:47 am And mine!
Celeste 12/31/09 10:07 pm Definitely crossed!

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