wrap someone around one's finger - sexual connotation?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by JBPARK, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. JBPARK Senior Member

    Dear Veterans,

    I've recently learned the expression "wrap someone around one's finger" and
    I was wondering if it could carry a certain level of sexual undertone in a certain context.

    For instance, if I were to say something like, while watching a late night talk show host, Craig Ferguson, chat with his female guest in a sort of half flirty and half freudian way, and she cracks up at every joke he is making,

    "Craig Ferguson got her totally wrapped around his finger throughout the whole interview."

    Does it send out any sexual connotation?
     
  2. gramman

    gramman Senior Member

    Not at all, in my opinion.
     
  3. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    I don't understand the "half-freudian" part, but if you say that "Craig's got her wrapped around his finger", I don't immediately think it's sexual, but some sexual tension may be included, but mind you, this is for "Hollywood" show.

    It's tough to estimate. "to have someone wrapped around someone's finger" is 2/3 sexual and 1/3 platonic, in my humble opinion.

    So, after writing that, yes I agree that there's mostly sexual connotation, but on a talk show like Craig Ferguson, it's all for show, and to make the interview more intriguing, so both the host and the guest kind of "play" with each other.

    That's where your query becomes confusing, but more intriguing. :)

    I wrote too much JB! Ciao, P
     
  4. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    The expression I know is "she has him wrapped around her little finger", and it means that she can easily persuade him to do what she wants. In your context it would seem more appropriate to say "he had her eating out of his hand". Who knows what was going on in the mind of the person who said "he got her totally wrapped around his finger"? I think your suggestion is quite likely, but not because the expression is inherently equivocal.
     
  5. JBPARK Senior Member

    Maybe we should file this under the "fuggedaboutit" column, once again. :)

    I just wanted to know how far the nuance of the phrase could be stretched in certain contexts.

    Thanks for your helpful posts.
     
  6. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    The expression can be used in a sexual way, but it isn't inherently sexual, and it is definitely not safe to assume a sexual connotation unless that's indicated in another way. A much-loved child, for example, might have her daddy wrapped around her little finger, and there is no sexual connotation there. It definitely doesn't mean "flirty," that's for sure.

    So yeah...it doesn't work that well in your sentence, and there definite words and expressions that better convey what you're trying to express.
     
  7. WildWest

    WildWest Senior Member

    Istanbul
    Turkish
    Hi. I feel confused by the placement of objects in that expression.

    1. He wrapped her around his finger.
    2. He has her wrapped around his finger.
    3. He got her wrapped around his finger.

    I come across all three. I'd use the first, but have heard the number two in a TV series. The last two sound like the causative construction—as if someone helps you wrap another person around your finger. Are all those three grammatically correct and natural to the native speakers?
     
  8. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    As Velisarius said three years and four posts ago, it's "S/he has (or "had") him/her wrapped around his/her little finger". It's an idiom and so the structure shouldn't change.
     
  9. jmichaelm Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    English - US
    When you are dealing with idiomatic speech you can't typically modify it using standard grammar rules and still have an expression that makes sense.

    1. "He wrapped her around his finger." I've never heard this used that I recall. It doesn't sound particularly natural to me.
    2. "He has her wrapped around his finger." This is the common idiom. The gender is not restricted, so you could also say, "She has him wrapped around her finger."
    3. "He got her wrapped around his finger." This sounds wrong, as if someone was applying poor grammar to the idiom.
     
  10. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I wonder if this is an AE/BE difference - "little finger" in BE and just "finger" in AE.
     
  11. I agree, and also agree there is absolutely no inherent sexual connotation.
     
  12. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British (English) English
    It has to be 'little finger': that's very important!
    Not even Urban Dictionary gives a sexual meaning.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  13. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    Thanks, Hermione. In that case,
    Edit: I don't see it as a causative construction, Wild West.
    I have a scarf wrapped round my neck.
    She has him wrapped around her little finger.
     
  14. It's not an AE/BE difference at all.
     
  15. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I see, thanks.
    (I asked because three Americans seemed fine with just "finger". Perhaps they didn't notice.)
     
  16. WildWest

    WildWest Senior Member

    Istanbul
    Turkish
    Thanks for the replies. It seems only the number two sounds natural to you. I remember seeing the third on the Internet, so it must have been written by a non-native speaker.

    As I said earlier, I came across the number two in a TV series, without little attached. I hope people will still understand it if I happen to leave it out in speech.
     
  17. They will.
     
  18. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    When I hear "wrapped around my finger," I immediately think of the song by The Police, and as far as I know, Sting was born in England.

    For the record, I'm happy with or without "little."
     
  19. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I was thinking of that song too, but I didn't remember Sting's English origin till you mentioned it.:) Looks like it makes little difference, anyway!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  20. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    :thumbsup: (Now that song will be in my head all day . . . .)
     
  21. jmichaelm Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    English - US
    Agreed. I didn't realize the "little" part was essential for some speakers.
     
  22. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British (English) English
    Aah! Sting! From my home city, thus extra special in that daft way. He went to the same grammar school my Dad did, only about 50 years later.
    I hate to do a semi-demolition job on taking his unusual use of 'wrapped around my (little) finger' as any sort of model, but he's talking about a literal ring around (on) a finger, presumably a wedding ring, which is worn on the 'ring' finger of the left hand in the UK. That's the one before the little finger.
    In this context, using 'little finger' would be bizarre. It's a play on words.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  23. Hildy1 Senior Member

    English - US and Canada
    I agree with the people above who say that the expression usually has no sexual meaning.

    People sometimes say that their pet (cat or dog) has them "wrapped around his/her little paw". This is a variant of "wrapped around his/her little finger". it does not mean that they have an unnatural attachment to the animal.
     

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