green thumb

green thumb (US),
green fingers (UK)

Meaning

  • good gardening results
  • success or skill in growing plants/seeds
  • natural ability to grow things

Example Sentences

  1. My mother has green fingers. She can grow just about anything in the garden.
  2. Pete has really taken to gardening in his retirement. It turns out he has a green thumb.
  3. These tomatoes taste amazing. I wish I had green fingers like you.
  4. You don’t need a green thumb to grow a wildflower garden. They look after themselves.
  5. Her grandma used to take plant cuttings from hedgerows as they passed by. She was so green-fingered she could get them to grow in her garden.
  6. I need a green thumb‘s guide to save my plants during a drought.
  7. In the lockdowns, many people have discovered their green thumb and love for gardening.

Origin

The term green fingers is said to have originated in the UK in early 1900s and some believe it comes from the green stains that farmers and crop growers acquire on their fingertips when they handle plants regularly.

The earliest quote comes from a novel The Misses Make-Believe by Mary Stuart Boyd, a Scottish woman who wrote:

“What old wives call green fingers: those magic digits that appear to ensure the growth of everything they plant.”

Another example of the phrase is in the 1943 novel Congo Song by Stuart Cloete when he writes:

“Some men have green fingers. Plants love them. They can make things grow because they love them.”

The phrase ‘green thumb’ came later, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the US uses a different term. The first mention in print being in the Daily Globe in July 1937:

“Miss Dvorak has what is known as ‘the green thumb‘. That’s horticultural slang for being a successful gardener.”

It is a verb phrase and can be used in the following two ways; You can be green fingered or have green fingers.

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