from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The hand closed tightly with the fingers bent against the palm.
  • n. Informal A grasp; a clutch: had a fortune in their fists and let it go.
  • n. Printing See index.
  • transitive v. To clench into a fist.
  • transitive v. To grasp with the fist.
  • transitive v. Vulgar To insert the fist into the rectum or vagina of (another) as a means of sexual stimulation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To break wind.
  • n. The act of breaking wind; fise.
  • n. A puffball.
  • n. hand with the fingers clenched or curled inward
  • n. the pointing hand symbol ☞
  • n. the characteristic signaling rhythm of an individual telegraph or CW operator when sending Morse code
  • n. a person's characteristic handwriting
  • n. A group of men
  • v. To strike with the fist.
  • v. To close (the hand) into a fist.
  • v. To grip with a fist.
  • v. To fist-fuck.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The hand with the fingers doubled into the palm; the closed hand, especially as clinched tightly for the purpose of striking a blow.
  • n. The talons of a bird of prey.
  • n. the index mark [☞], used to direct special attention to the passage which follows.
  • transitive v. To strike with the fist.
  • transitive v. To gripe with the fist.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To strike with the fist.
  • To grip with the fist.
  • To break wind.
  • n. The hand clenched; the hand with the fingers doubled into the palm.
  • n. Used to translate German faust, hand-breadth, equal in Austria to 10.54 centimeters, or about 4 inches.
  • n. The act of breaking wind: same as fise.
  • n. A puffball.
  • n. In printing, the index sign , included by type-founders among the marks of reference.
  • n. Same as fise and fise-dog.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a hand with the fingers clenched in the palm (as for hitting)


Middle English, from Old English fȳst; see penkwe in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English fisten, fiesten, from Old English *fistan ("to break wind gently"; supported by Old English fisting ("breaking wind")), from Proto-Germanic *fistaz (“breaking wind, fart”), from Proto-Germanic *fīsanan (“to break or discharge wind, fart”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)peys- (“to blow, breathe”). Cognate with Dutch veest ("a fart"), Low German fīsten ("to break wind"), German Fist ("a quiet wind"), Fisten ("breaking wind"), Swedish fisa ("to fart"), Latin spīrō ("breathe, blow"), Albanian fryj ("to blow, breath"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English fist, from Old English fȳst ("fist"), from Proto-Germanic *funstiz (compare West Frisian fûst, Dutch vuist, German Faust), from Proto-Indo-European *pn̥kʷ-sti 'fist' (compare Lithuanian kùmstė, Old Church Slavonic pęstĭ), from *pénkʷe 'five'. More at five. (Wiktionary)



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  • I believe they still use these in the For Dummies series. Not that I'd know!

    July 31, 2008

  • That's the problem with texts today--no manicules. How am I supposed to find the good stuff? :-)

    July 31, 2008

  • Though rare today, this symbol was in common use between the 12th and 18th centuries in the margins of books, and was formerly included in lists of standard punctuation marks. Its typical use is as a bullet-like symbol to direct the reader’s attention to important text, having roughly the same meaning as the word "attention" or "note".

    It primarily fell out of favor because its complex design made it unfit for handwriting, and its wide size made it difficult to fit on a typewriter or on early, low-resolution, monospaced computer fonts. Thus, it was not included in early forms of ASCII. It was, however, added to Unicode.

    Other names for the symbol include: index (HEY, this is a bug!), bishop's fist, digit, manicule, mutton-fist and pointing hand.

    July 31, 2008