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finesse

[fi-ness] /fɪˈnɛss/
noun
1.
extreme delicacy or subtlety in action, performance, skill, discrimination, taste, etc.
2.
skill in handling a difficult or highly sensitive situation; adroit and artful management:
exceptional diplomatic finesse.
3.
a trick, artifice, or stratagem.
4.
Bridge, Whist. an attempt to win a trick with a card while holding a higher card not in sequence with it, in the hope that the card or cards between will not be played.
verb (used without object), finessed, finessing.
5.
to use finesse or artifice.
6.
to make a finesse at cards.
verb (used with object), finessed, finessing.
7.
to bring about by finesse or artifice.
8.
to avoid; circumvent.
9.
to make a finesse with (a card).
10.
to force the playing of (a card) by a finesse.
Origin of finesse
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English: degree of excellence or purity < Middle French < Vulgar Latin *fīnitia. See fine1, -ice
Synonyms
1, 2. tact, diplomacy, savoir faire, circumspection, sensitivity, sensibility.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for finesse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I admire especially the finesse and cleverness with which she has elaborated and carried out her beneficent scheme.

    Mollie's Prince Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Through his father's finesse, Paul moved in select London circles.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
  • How did Italian finesse and cunning blend and harmonize with the quick penetration and delicate tact of the Frenchwoman?

    Political Women, Vol. 2 (of 2) Sutherland Menzies
  • Here was a situation which called for the finesse of the politician.

    Union and Democracy Allen Johnson
  • The shore-side Wrecker lords were always considered fair game, and there was no finesse in Rover raids upon them.

    Key Out of Time Andre Alice Norton
British Dictionary definitions for finesse

finesse

/fɪˈnɛs/
noun
1.
elegant skill in style or performance
2.
subtlety and tact in handling difficult situations
3.
(bridge, whist) an attempt to win a trick when opponents hold a high card in the suit led by playing a lower card, hoping the opponent who has already played holds the missing card
4.
a trick, artifice, or strategy
verb
5.
to manage or bring about with finesse
6.
to play (a card) as a finesse
Word Origin
C15: from Old French, from fin fine, delicate; see fine1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for finesse
n.

1520s, from Middle French finesse "fineness, subtlety," from Old French fin "subtle, delicate" (see fine (adj.)).

v.

1746, originally as a term in whist; see finesse (n.). Related: Finessed; finessing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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