Idiom: Green Thumb-Definition, Meaning, and Origin, with examples

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The origin:

The Lady has a Green Thumb

Back in the 1900s, the term “green fingers” was popular in the United Kingdom. It came from the green-stained fingers of farmers. 

Often, plant extracts are used to dye fabric. Many plants secrete a stain. And so, during the harvest, the fingertips of farmers’ would become green with plant dyes. 

The earliest use of “green fingers” came from the novel “The Misses Make-Believe” by Mary Stuart Boyd, a Scottish author. 

She wrote: 

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

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Later, the phrase “green thumb” came about. It was first used in the Daily Globe, in 1937.

An American journalist wrote: 

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

Having a green thumb is a blessing. Those who have a green thumb make the plants grow. And, it’s said that “the lady who has a green thumb never lacks beauty, she is surrounded by flowers, nor goes hungry, food springs from the earth for her.” 

Of course, having a green thumb can be cultivated and many have found their green thumb during the pandemic. 

Examples of the Idiom: Green Thumb

  • Aunt Petunia’s garden is beautiful. She really has a green thumb. 
  • I wish I had a green thumb so I could grow some red roses. 
  • The Dursleys are looking for someone who has a green thumb to take care of their family’s big garden. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try and make your own sentence.

Q2: Do you think having a green thumb is a natural talent or is it a skill that can be learned? Explain. 

Q3: If you had a green thumb, what would you like to grow and why?

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