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Old 15.05.2011, 11:32
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By the pressing of my thumbs...

It's raining and hailing too hard to take the mutts out wandering, so I'm left with my (random) thoughts on a Sunday afternoon...

Anyway, something I've always wondered:

The English equivalent of the phrase 'Daumen drücken' (thumbs pressed) is 'fingers crossed' - and we make a gesture of crossing the index and second fingers when we want to convey hopefullness or wishing good luck.

So is there a gesture equivalent to 'Daumen drücken?' Are thumbs pressed together, pressed against a finger, or just what?
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Old 15.05.2011, 11:52
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

I've just seen this recently, I can not remember where / why (maybe I was watching one of the Swiss or German channels?).... anyhow, what I saw was someone with their thumbs tucked into their fist and "out" between their pointer and middle fingers. Reminded me of when I was little and my father used to "steal" my nose, if that helps with the image?

I'm not totally sure that what I saw was someone pressing their thumbs but the situation seemed correct for that interpretation of the gesture.
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Old 15.05.2011, 12:11
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

Clench your fists and with wrists facing outwards, press each thumb hard into your temples with a grimace. For added effect, bare gritted teeth and make a deep, rising groaning noise. Having some spaghetti sauce on your shirt will complete the picture.

Or adapt a hand gesture similar to holding tight on horse reins, which is a more accurate interpretation.
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Old 15.05.2011, 12:42
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

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Or adapt a hand gesture similar to holding tight on horse reins, which is a more accurate interpretation.
Would this be for English style of riding or Western?
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Old 15.05.2011, 12:49
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

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I've just seen this recently, I can not remember where / why (maybe I was watching one of the Swiss or German channels?).... anyhow, what I saw was someone with their thumbs tucked into their fist and "out" between their pointer and middle fingers. Reminded me of when I was little and my father used to "steal" my nose, if that helps with the image?

I'm not totally sure that what I saw was someone pressing their thumbs but the situation seemed correct for that interpretation of the gesture.
My uncle used to do this as well when i was little! My family still tease my about it

Ok back on topic now
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Old 15.05.2011, 14:25
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

I never cease to be amazed at the depth and breadth of knowledge this forum provides...

Thanks, one and all!


(My dad used to steal my nose, too. Must be part of the standard 'dad repetoire'. Ah, the simple joys of childhood... )
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Old 15.05.2011, 14:43
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

Oooh ... another interesting thread!

I just discovered how old I am, simply by trying to do the old "holding thumbs" thing.

My thumbs don`t bend too good .. last time I looked .. about 20 years ago, they were fine. I ended up here with a Kung-ho pointy knuckled killer hand expression that I`m glad I tried out here in private first so I don`t go showing friends and family how arthritic old mom is getting.

And then I found my fingers, all 8 of them, also would not do what they used to do. They also don`t tuck down as smoothly any more!

But, back on the immediate topic. Holding Thumbs. That is making that fist that you were taught to not make if intending to punch someone as you would end up breaking your own thumbs, squashed down under you knuckles.

The other idea, that it comes from "pinching your nose" ... nah, that`s not correct. The pinching your nose finger pose was always a rude sign ... signalling someone to "go get st****d". My sister-in-law used that signal a lot as she never swore.
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Old 15.05.2011, 17:40
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

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I've just seen this recently, I can not remember where / why (maybe I was watching one of the Swiss or German channels?).... anyhow, what I saw was someone with their thumbs tucked into their fist and "out" between their pointer and middle fingers. Reminded me of when I was little and my father used to "steal" my nose, if that helps with the image?

I'm not totally sure that what I saw was someone pressing their thumbs but the situation seemed correct for that interpretation of the gesture.
Basically that's what the phrase "Daumen drücken" means, albeit without the thumb's tip protruding between the other fingers. You make a loose fist and tuck the thumb inside as deep as possible. The thumb showing between the other fingers is part of nose stealing thing also here. As the German plural implies, it is usually done on both hands.

Please don't ask me what the origin is. All I can say is that usually it is not just "die Daumen drücken" but "jemandem die Daumen drücken," which means you do it for wishing good luck to someone else, never to yourself.
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Old 15.05.2011, 21:59
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

It seems this is another Cantonal difference, like the different dialects, as in ZH I've only ever noticed the thumb being pressed against the clenched index finger. Sticking the whole thumb in the fist seems odd. It's all a bit odd around here though...
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Old 16.05.2011, 00:52
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

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It seems this is another Cantonal difference, like the different dialects, as in ZH I've only ever noticed the thumb being pressed against the clenched index finger. Sticking the whole thumb in the fist seems odd. It's all a bit odd around here though...
Sticking the thumb inside the fist is pretty universal in the German speaking areas of Europe. You can see it very often on TV, for instance in game shows. It is also called "Daumen halten," which would not apply to the gesture you saw. What you described probably was introduced by people who knew the phrase only from hearsay.
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Old 16.05.2011, 06:38
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

For some reason, I can't paste this as an inline image.

But here's the link...

Last edited by Village Idiot; 16.05.2011 at 09:24. Reason: Linky no worky.
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Old 16.05.2011, 08:43
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Re: By the pressing of my thumbs...

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You don't say...






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For some reason, I can't paste this as an inline image.

But here's the link...
Sorry, that linky not worky either.


There is a picture at this link (hopefully one way or another it will work), complete with other good luck symbols.


Last edited by Peg A; 16.05.2011 at 19:11. Reason: avoiding double post
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