to not lift a finger 5

to not lift a finger: meaning and explanation

If you complain about someone not lifting a finger, then you are accusing them of being extremely lazy and not even doing the smallest amount to help. This expression is usually used negatively, e.g. I had to do all the tidying up myself. He didn’t lift a finger to help.

It is possible to use this expression positively in certain structures, e.g. It would be nice if he lifted a finger to help occasionally, or He actually lifted a finger to help for once. In both these sentences, the suggestion is that the person normally doesn’t lift a finger to help.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Scottish

really you never around .
I’m really fed of you never a finger around house.

…I’m getting really fed up…

If you are fed up of/with something then you feel frustrated and annoyed with something, usually because you have had enough of it or it has been going on for too much time. e.g. His jokes were funny in the beginning, but I’m getting really fed up of them now.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Have you ever lived with a lazy housemate? Tell me about them using this expression.
  • Who is the laziest person you know?

Photo by Sam Solomon on Unsplash

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I always try hard to pull my weight when it comes to help around the house. I’m not a sort of person who doesn’t lift a finger.


Hi Chris:) As more I learn new expressions as more I notice similarities between English and Russian languages:) Literally each your expression has twin in my native language with the same sense! I wonder how it really can be?Different countries, different people and cultures,thousands kilometers between us and nevertheless we have so much common !To tell the truth I often listen your micro -lessons and with great pleasure but if one tells about somebody who doesn’t lift a finger about the house it isn’t about me absolutely 🙂


I’ve never lived with a person that never lifts a finger around the house. I would be fed up with it. I have an aunt who doesn’t lift a finger when she is in someone’s house. I don’t know if it’s just lazyness or she doesn’t realise everybody is helping with the house, but her.

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