put (one's) finger on (something)(redirected from hard to put your finger on it)
put (one's) finger on (something)
1. To recognize or recall fully, clearly, or correctly. (Usually used in the negative.) I can't put my finger on what this is reminding me of. There's something off about her story, but I can't put my finger on it.
2. To recognize, identify, or determine the fundamental aspects of something. Well, I think you put your finger on it when you brought up the issue of tax increases for lower earners.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
put one's finger on something
1. Lit. to touch something with one's finger. I put my finger on the button and pressed. Put your finger on this spot and push hard.
2. Fig. to identify and state the essence of something. That is correct! You have certainly put your finger on the problem. When she mentioned money, she really put her finger on the problem.
put one's finger on
Also, lay one's finger on.
1. Identify, as in I can't put my finger on the man in that photo. [Late 1800s]
2. See lay a finger on.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
put your finger on something
COMMON If you put your finger on the reason for something or the truth about something, you say what it is exactly. He put his finger on a major weakness of its education policy when he said that the country needed improved education, not perpetual experimentation. It was Dr. Stockton who had put his finger on the truth. Note: If you cannot say exactly the reason for something or the truth about something, you can say that you can't put your finger on it. Had they known each other as children? At school? She couldn't put her finger on it.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
put your finger onidentify something exactly.
1988 Glenn Patterson Burning Your Own There was something about the dinette that struck him as peculiar, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
put (one's) finger on
To identify: I can't put my finger on the person in that photograph.
put (one's) finger on
To remember; recall: I know his name; I just can't put my finger on it.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.