Fingers Crossed: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 19, 2023

When people are hoping for something good to happen or a plan to come together, they often say, "fingers crossed!" The term fingers crossed is an idiom that means you're hoping for the best possible outcome or a bit of good luck.

In short:

The idiom "fingers crossed" symbolizes the hope for good luck or a favorable outcome.

What Does "Fingers Crossed" Mean?

The idiom 'fingers crossed' holds a significant place in English-speaking cultures as a representation of hope and desire for a positive outcome. Although the phrase is often used casually, its meanings can vary depending on the context.

  • In its simplest form, it signifies the wish for luck or success. For example, saying "fingers crossed" before a job interview.
  • It can also be used to assure someone else. If someone says, "I hope I pass the test," you might reply with "fingers crossed!"
  • In some cases, crossing fingers is even a secret way to nullify a promise or excuse a small lie, especially among children.

Regardless of its usage, the core idea remains the same: it's all about hoping for the best.

Where Does "Fingers Crossed" Come From?

The idiom "fingers crossed" has deep historical roots that can be traced back to pre-Christian times.

Let's delve into some facts:

  • The gesture of crossing fingers likely originated as a pagan symbol for protection, often done by two people intertwining their index fingers.
  • The Christian interpretation associates the crossing of fingers with the shape of the cross, signifying a request for divine intervention.
  • The phrase became particularly popular during World War II as a symbol of hope and good luck among soldiers.

There isn't a singular, definitive moment we can point to as the birth of the phrase "fingers crossed," but its evolution over time is a testament to its lasting cultural significance.

10 Examples of "Fingers Crossed" in Sentences

  • I have my fingers crossed that the weather will be good for our outdoor event.
  • She's going for a job interview tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed for her.
  • With fingers crossed, he opened the envelope containing his exam results.
  • Fingers crossed, maybe some other time, they won't be late.
  • He was crossing his fingers as the lottery numbers were announced.
  • They had their fingers crossed throughout the tense final moments of the game.
  • It's only onward and upward from here! Fingers crossed!
  • We're crossing our fingers that the project gets the green light; we just have to hang in there.
  • I've got my fingers crossed that the flight won't be delayed.
  • All in all, she's crossing her fingers for good news at the doctor's office.

These examples illustrate the idiom's flexibility and wide-ranging application in different scenarios.

Examples of "Fingers Crossed" in Pop Culture

The phrase "fingers crossed" is not just restricted to casual conversations; it also appears in various forms of pop culture:

  • The 2016 song "Fingers Crossed" by COIN delves into themes of hope and longing.
  • In the movie "Forrest Gump," the character Jenny prays with her "fingers crossed" behind her back, representing her conflicted emotions.
  • The TV show "Friends" features characters using the phrase "fingers crossed" in moments of anticipation and hope.
  • In the novel "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green, characters occasionally use the phrase "fingers crossed" to signify hope.
  • The phrase "fingers crossed" often appears in comic strips like "Calvin and Hobbes" when the characters are hoping for a particular outcome.
  • An episode of the popular TV show "Grey's Anatomy" titled "Fingers Crossed" revolves around themes of hope and fear.
  • The phrase is also used in various reality TV shows like "American Idol" where contestants and their families are seen crossing their fingers.
  • In sports broadcasting, commentators often use the phrase "fingers crossed" when discussing critical moments in a game.

As evident, the phrase has found its way into multiple facets of entertainment and media, signifying its widespread influence.

Other/Different ways to say "Fingers Crossed"

While "fingers crossed" is a popular way to express hope or anticipation, there are other phrases and idioms that convey a similar meaning.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Knock on wood — Often used after mentioning good fortune, hoping that it will continue.
  • Here's hoping — A simpler way to express hope for a particular outcome.
  • God willing — A religious take on hoping for the best.
  • Holding my breath — Indicates a state of anticipation or anxiety.
  • All the best to you — A straightforward way to express optimism.
  • Wish me luck — Directly asking for someone’s good wishes.
  • I hope all goes well — Expressing optimism about the future.
  • With bated breath — Waiting eagerly or anxiously for something to happen.

These alternative expressions offer a rich tapestry of ways to talk about hope and anticipation, adding nuance and variety to our conversations.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Fingers Crossed"

  • What does "fingers crossed" mean?

This idiom generally means to hope for a favorable outcome in an uncertain situation.

  • Where did the phrase "fingers crossed" originate?

The phrase has its roots in early Christian traditions and superstitions, evolving over time to its modern secular usage.

  • Is "fingers crossed" used globally or just in specific cultures?

While it is widely used in Western cultures, the concept exists in various forms in other cultures as well, though the specific gesture might differ.

  • Can "fingers crossed" be considered sarcastic or ironic?

Yes, depending on the context and tone, the phrase can be used sarcastically.

  • Is "fingers crossed" appropriate for formal communication?

It's generally considered casual and may not be suitable for very formal or professional settings.

  • Do people actually cross their fingers when they say this?

Some people do make the gesture while saying it, but it's not strictly necessary.

  • Is "fingers crossed" related to any religious practices today?

Although it has early Christian origins, the phrase and gesture are generally considered secular today.

  • Can the phrase be considered disrespectful or offensive?

Generally, it is not considered disrespectful, but interpretation can depend on cultural and individual perspectives.

  • Are there any famous quotes involving "fingers crossed"?

While there may not be universally famous quotes that use this idiom, it frequently appears in literature and film to signify hope or anticipation.

  • What's the body language that accompanies "fingers crossed"?

Often, the act of crossing one's index and middle fingers accompanies the expression.

Final Thoughts About "Fingers Crossed"

Whether you're whispering it in anticipation or making the actual finger-crossing gesture, the phrase "fingers crossed" has permeated our language as a common expression of hope and desire.

  • Originating from early Christian practices, the idiom has transcended religious barriers to become a universally understood expression.
  • The phrase can take on different meanings depending on context, including instances where it's used sarcastically.
  • Though most commonly used in informal settings, it has found its way into various aspects of popular culture.

In the end, "fingers crossed" remains a testament to the power of language to adapt, evolve, and unify us across time and cultures.

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