Couldn't Put Finger On

namlan

Banned
Vietnam
- I loved this film very much. However, there was something about it that I couldn't put my finger on which seemed a litlle off, a little too light.

- Does "I couldn't put my finger on" have a figurative meaning here?

Thanks a lot!

NamLan
 
  • out2lnch

    Senior Member
    English-Canada
    Yes, it does. It just means that you couldn't point out exactly what it was that seemed 'off' in the film, but there was definitely something. This expression is commonly used in this context.
     

    Ume

    Banned
    Japanese
    Hello.

    ---------------------------------
    < Longman Dictionary >
    put your finger on something
    to know or be able to explain exactly what is wrong, different, or unusual about a situation
    - There was something about the man that worried Wycliffe, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
    ---------------------------------
    < Oxford Dictionary >
    not put your finger on something
    to not be able to identify what is wrong or different about a particular situation
    - There was something odd about him but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
    ---------------------------------
    - Yes! That's it! You've just put your finger on the answer!
    - The mechanic immediately put his finger on what was wrong.
     

    out2lnch

    Senior Member
    English-Canada
    Hello.

    ---------------------------------
    < Longman Dictionary >
    put your finger on something
    to know or be able to explain exactly what is wrong, different, or unusual about a situation
    - There was something about the man that worried Wycliffe, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
    ---------------------------------
    < Oxford Dictionary >
    not put your finger on something
    to not be able to identify what is wrong or different about a particular situation
    - There was something odd about him but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
    ---------------------------------
    - Yes! That's it! You've just put your finger on the answer!
    - The mechanic immediately put his finger on what was wrong.
    Interestingly, I've never heard it used in the positive like your example has. It is normally used in the sense the Oxford definition you give shows. If you're going to use it, then stick with the negative sense. I think it sounds odd saying someone's put their finger on it.
     
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