What does the idiom "keep one\'s fingers crossed" mean?

The phrase keep one\'s fingers crossed is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of keep one\'s fingers crossed.

Meaning of "keep one\'s fingers crossed"

Meaning

The phrase ‘keep one’s fingers crossed’ is an idiom typically used when one wants a particular outcome from a situation or event. It is derived from a superstition in which a person creating a sign of crossing their fingers in the hopes of transferring good luck to whoever is performing the task, usually in order to increase the chances of a positive result. As such, the phrase is often used when a person is wishing for luck or success when something is out of their control.

Etymology

The phrase ‘keep one’s fingers crossed’ originated from a superstitious practice of crossing one’s fingers and saying prayers in order to obtain good luck. The superstition may have emerged from early Christian practices, as crossing one’s fingers was seen as an imitation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and thus, an invocation of the power of God. This superstition has been in use since the Middle Ages, but the phrase ‘keep one’s fingers crossed’ was not popularized until the 19th century.

Usage

The phrase ‘keep one’s fingers crossed’ is used in a wide variety of contexts, though the main uses are in references to wishing for good luck or success in an endeavour. This phrase can be used to express hope for an outcome that is not under one’s control, such as in a competition or audition. It can also be used when one is conversely hoping that something undesirable does not occur; for example, ‘I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain tomorrow’. The phrase is often used when one is trying to remain optimistic despite difficult or uncertain circumstances.

Example Sentences

  • I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get the job.
  • She kept her fingers crossed the entire time she was taking the test.
  • I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the project goes according to plan.
  • We kept our fingers crossed that the weather would hold.

The meanings of the words in the "keep one\'s fingers crossed" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.

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