to have sticky fingers
Meaning | Synonyms
- keep objects that don’t belong to you
- the inclination or tendency to steal
- to be likely to steal something
- steal small amounts of cash or valuables
- Money had started disappearing from the treasury coffers so, they realised that someone had sticky fingers.
- One of the new staff had sticky fingers because the books never seemed to balance anymore.
- That waiter has got sticky fingers. I just saw him put our cash in his trouser pocket.
- A lot of things have gone missing lately from the store cupboard. Do you think someone has sticky fingers?
- I hope he doesn’t leave any cash lying around when the family visit. His uncle is a little sticky-fingered.
This phrase is from Britain in the mid-1800s and is a metaphor suggesting that if someone has a tendency to steal then valuable items and cash naturally ‘adhere’ to their hands. The phrase is used more for a petty thief rather than a hardened criminal though for example, a shop worker stealing cash from the till, rather than an armed robber stealing from a bank.
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According to other trivia sources, petty theft, ie “sticky fingers” came from the gold mining industry where those sifting the dig plate put sap/honey on their fingers to collect gold dust When weighing for payment. Thus, stealing from the gold finder & pocketing value from the bankers. (Of course, this could be a myth retold by my grandfather - born in 1899 - from his mining grandfather!)
- EJ September 5, 2020
Thanks a lot for sending the idioms. I have noted good writers using idioms very effectively. Sometime back I read the use of idiom's like 'CARRYING COAL TO NEWCASTLE'. I heard there is no more coal mining in England but the idiom has remained as powerful. English is not my mother tongue but like idioms. I have saved your address.
- Ramesh Joshi April 29, 2020