an impression of the markings of the inner surface of the last joint of the thumb or other finger.
such an impression made with ink for purposes of identification.
any unique or distinctive pattern that presents unambiguous evidence of a specific person, substance, disease, etc.
verb (used with object)
to take or record the fingerprints of.

1855–60; finger + print Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
fingerprint (ˈfɪŋɡəˌprɪnt)
1.  an impression of the pattern of ridges on the palmar surface of the end joint of each finger and thumb
2.  any identifying characteristic
3.  biochem the pattern of fragments obtained when a protein is digested by a proteolytic enzyme, usually observed following two-dimensional separation by chromatography and electrophoresis
4.  (tr) to take an inked impression of the fingerprints of (a person)
5.  to take a sample of (a person's) DNA

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1859 (n.), 1905 (v.), from finger + print. Related: Fingerprinted; fingerprinting.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

fingerprint fin·ger·print (fĭng'gər-prĭnt')

  1. An impression on a surface of the curves formed by the ridges on a fingertip, especially such an impression made in ink and used as a means of identification.

  2. A distinctive or identifying mark or characteristic.

  3. An analytical method capable of making fine distinctions between similar compounds.

v. fin·ger·print·ed, fin·ger·print·ing, fin·ger·prints
  1. To take fingerprints of.

  2. To identify by a distinctive mark or characteristic.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

fingerprint definition

The impression or mark left by the underside of the tips of the fingers or thumbs. The impression is formed by a pattern of ridges on the skin surface. This pattern is unique for each individual and therefore can serve as a means of identification. (Compare DNA fingerprinting.)

Note: Fingerprinting is used extensively in criminal investigation, but it is also used as a means of identification by many organizations.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Now a school has asked to fingerprint me post campus interview.
Many of the fingerprint readers could be tricked simply by breathing on them,
  reactivating the last user's fingerprint.
The fingerprint images have also been reduced in resolution so as to render
  them unusable except for illustration.
The gases in a planet's atmosphere provide the unique fingerprint for such a
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