You are watching: What does wrapped around your finger mean
I"d never before really assumed about this one before, however my guess would have actually been the idiom had actually some link to wedding rings. On the other hand, intuition (and also a Google Books search) tell me that the expression generally requires a little finger - not normally associated through wedding rings.
Does anyone recognize when/why the idiomatic intake arose? I can not uncover anypoint in OED or a cursory search online.
One of the clearest early on expositions of the interpretation of the expression appears in a letter from a St. Louis, Missouri, hotel, dated November 18, 1835, printed in the
I wish you to watch the movements of A . G . H.--You understand he never tires. What he lacks in talents, be provides up by sector and also perseverance ; he is hard to head in a grocery or upon a corner<.> I wish you to save an eye upon Stuart"s massive lion of the north. I fear him more than any kind of man in my district ; for he supports 4 Pinhabitants, and I only support one,—which provides him an excellent advantage over me. As for General Maxwell, I can spin him right into wrapping thread, and wind him round my little bit finger. A good case will area him on the shelf, or at leastern the promise of one.
To equivalent impact 30 years later is Charles Dickens, "Mrs. Lirriper"s Legacy" (1864), in Christmas Stories from "Houseorganize Words" and "All the Year Round" (1868):
Not you watch however what I knew I could attract the Major out prefer thcheck out and also wind him round my finger on most subjects and also perhaps even on that if I wregarding set myself to it, yet him and me had actually so often belied Miss Wozenham to one another that I was shamefaced, and also I knew she had offfinished his pride and never before mine, and also likewise I felt timid that that Rairyganoo girl could make things awkward.
The picture is thus of a tailor or seamanxiety illustration out a threview from his or her sewing occupational and wrapping that thread around a finger. This appears most likely to reflect the method world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries imagined the expression, given that sewing was a standard job during that era in families throughout the lutz-heilmann.info-speaking people. In addition, on the frontiers of The United States and Canada, handiness via needle and also thread was by no means a ability scheduled for woguys only.
The earliest wordings of the descriptive image of figuratively wrapping, twisting, twining, twirling, or turning a perkid about one"s finger appears to have actually emerged in the 1700s. In addition to the February 1780 Tvery own and also Counattempt Magazine circumstances that Mari-LouA cites in her answer (which my Google Books searches did not revolve up), the complying with instances are among the earliest.
Earliest of all is this one from a letter from William Stephens to Mr. Martyn dated November 25, 1743, in The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, 1742–1745, volume 24 (1915):
The Scandalous reflection thrvery own at Mr. Parker, of his being drunk, is a vile falshood : for I execute aver yt
(This enhance from 1743 and the 1809 match listed below from Maboy Weems appear in Bartlett Whiting, Early Amerihave the right to Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases (1977), the source from which I learned of them.)
From Hannah Hewit, Hannah Hewit: Or, The Female Crusoe. Being the History of a Woman ... that ... was Cast Away in the Grosvenor East-Indiaman: and also Became for Three Years the Sole Inhabitant of an Island, in the South Seas (1792)
No male ever possessed these diabolical qualities in a more powerful degree than Thomas Sourby; and, of course, no guy might be more calculated to wind round his finger such a basic, vain, credulous creature as John Hewit.
From Charles Kemble, Plot and Counterplot: Or, The Portrait of Michael Cervantes; a Farce in Two Acts (1808):
Fabio. Oh, sir, you have no notion what an amiable creature I am once I collection around it. Well, sir, this widow has actually been some years in the business of Hernandez"s sister, Donna Clara, and, by a small of my advice, contrives to revolve her round her finger. She told me the other day, that Donna Lorenza had asked for her mitension to inform herself privately of the character and prospects of your rival ...
From Makid Weems The Life of General Francis Marion: A Celebrated Partisan Officer in the Revolutionary War (1809):
"I was never at a loss prior to," shelp he , "to regulate all various other policemans that were ever set over me. As for our colonel, (interpretation Moultrie) he is a fine, hocolony good-natured old buck. But I can wind him round my finger like a pack-threview. But as for the stern, keen-eyed Marion, I dreview him."
From Belle Assemblée: Or, Court and also Fashionable Magazine (1821)
A gentlemale, at a fashionable party, being asked by a lady his opinion of a beautiful ring she wore, in which was an extremely little miniature, and many striking likeness of her husband also, oboffered, that he was no good judge of paint, and also having watched Lord ——— yet once, he was hardly competent to pronounce on the likeness; neverthemuch less, he was happy to view her Ladyship had a husband also that she could revolve round her finger.
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The earliest composed circumstances that I"ve been able to confirm of figuratively wrapping someone approximately one"s finger is from 1743—an circumstances in which a letter writer in Georgia denies that "Watkid can wind Parker round his finger." An 1809 circumstances offers added conmessage for the expression by saying "But I deserve to wind him round my finger favor a pack-thread."
The early on instances of the expression that I found do not clearly refer to searching in general or to falconry in certain. Therefore, I think it most likely that the original intended picture is of sewing thcheck out being wound roughly one"s finger for short-lived storage pfinishing future usage.
With regard to the question of once a writer first specified that the little bit finger was the finger that the threadlike perkid was being wrapped about, I cannot discover an earlier circumstances than the one Mari-LouA cites from Wchange Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor (1819).