at one’s fingertips


at one’s fingertips (idiom)
/ət wʌnz ˈfɪŋɡərˌtɪps/


  • readily available or easily accessible for immediate use.
  • within easy reach; something you can get to or use quickly without much effort.
  • close at hand; instantly available for reference or use.
  • conveniently accessible, often in a figurative sense of knowledge or information.
  • immediately available or ready for use without delay or difficulty.

Example Sentences

  1. All the necessary documents are at my fingertips for the meeting.
  2. With modern technology, vast amounts of information are at our fingertips.
  3. She always has the latest sales figures at her fingertips.
  4. The emergency contact list is at their fingertips in case of any issues.
  5. The software makes all client data instantly at your fingertips.

Origin and History

The idiom “at one’s fingertips” has a rich history, with several theories and beliefs surrounding its origin. It has a multifaceted origin rooted in the literal sense of physical reach, expanding into the realms of knowledge, skills, and modern technology. Here is a comprehensive exploration of the idioms’ origins.

Literal Beginnings

The idiom “at one’s fingertips” is believed to have started from its literal sense. Initially, it referred to something being within physical reach, easily touchable with the tips of one’s fingers. This physical proximity implies that whatever is at one’s fingertips is immediately accessible and can be used without effort. This metaphorical extension from the literal sense is evident in literature as early as the 1800s, emphasizing the ease of access to information or objects.

Educational and Knowledge Context

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the phrase began to be associated more with knowledge and information. The idea was that memorized or well-understood information was so readily accessible to an individual that it was as if it were at their fingertips. This usage highlights mastery and familiarity with specific details, allowing someone to retrieve information almost instantaneously, much like reaching out with their fingers.

Technological Influence

With the advent of modern technology, the phrase has taken on new dimensions. In the digital age, vast amounts of information are now literally at our fingertips through computers, smartphones, and other devices. This modern usage underscores the original metaphorical meaning of the phrase, highlighting the ease with which data can be accessed today.

Idiomatic Evolution

“At one’s fingertips” has evolved over time to describe skills and resources beyond just information. It signifies a high level of competence or expertise in various fields, suggesting that a person has honed their abilities to the extent that they can deploy them effortlessly when needed. For instance, the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms notes its use both literally and figuratively to describe familiarity and readiness with details and skills.

Earliest Printed Record

The earliest recorded use of the phrase in its figurative sense dates back to the 19th century. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites an example from 1861 in the Circular, Oneida, NY, where “at one’s fingertips” is used to describe something being readily available or accessible. This historical reference highlights the phrase’s enduring presence in the English language, evolving from a simple metaphor to a broader expression encompassing immediate access to knowledge, skills, and resources.


  1. at hand
  2. within reach
  3. handy
  4. accessible
  5. close by

Share your opinions

What's on your mind?