I realize that Italian textbooks for foreigners do not bring up this topic very often. And the truth is that knowing the names of the fingers of the hand is helpful in diverse situations. Even understanding Italian texts and idioms requires this knowledge.
Here are the names of fingers in Italian:
Pollice (Thumb): the name derives from the Latin pollex-pollicis. And this derives, in turn, from the verb polleo, meaning strong, powerful. The pollice wins the contest of the strongest finger of the hand. And it distinguishes man from other primates allowing us to grasp objects.
Index (Index finger): the name comes from the Latin verb indicare, that is, to show, to point out. Thus, being the one we commonly use to point out people and objects.
Medio (Middle finger): this name is due to its position since it is the one in the middle of the fingers of the hand.
Anulare (Ring finger): the name comes from the word anello (wish) because it is the finger where the fede nunziale, that is, the wedding ring, is usually placed.
Mignolo (Little finger): the name derives from the Latin minimus, which means small. So, being the smallest, we call it so.
Nursery rhyme to memorize the names of fingers in Italian
In Italy, for children to learn the names of the fingers of the hand, they are taught many nursery rhymes. One of the most famous is this one:
Il pollice dice che non c’è pane.
L’indice says: lo compreremo.
Il medio says: come faremo?
The ring finger says: Ce n’è un pezzettino.
The mignolo says: Datelo a me che sono il più piccino!
And here is the translation:
The thumb says: there is no bread.
The index finger says: we will buy it.
The middle finger says: how shall we buy it?
The ring finger says: Here is a little piece.
The little finger says: Give it to me since I’m the smallest!
I hope the nursery rhyme helps you remember the names of the fingers in Italian. For more in-depth classes, check out this podcast-style course. They have a free 7-day trial! Click here to check it out!