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break thumbs

English translation: break thumbs

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06:20 May 28, 2003
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
English term or phrase: break thumbs
We break thumbs!

Is there any particular meaning of this phrase?
Poj
Local time: 09:03
English translation:break thumbs
Explanation:
I believe, although I have had no first-hand experience, generally means that the people you are dealing with tolerate very little feedback or infidelity. As Ian mentions, it is a technique used in gangs and organized crime to keep "problem customers" in line.
Our thumbs are an indispensible component in our fine motor skills, and the lack of one would make our lives considerably more complicated, even if only temporarily.
Remember in "The Pope of Greenwich Village" when one of the characters has his thumbs amputated by the local mob?
Selected response from:

Marie Scarano
Italy
Local time: 04:03
Grading comment
Thank you very much!!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +7break thumbsMarie Scarano
5 +3Traditional 2nd request for payment by mafia debt collector.
Sven Petersson


Discussion entries: 4





  

Answers


45 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +7
break thumbs


Explanation:
I believe, although I have had no first-hand experience, generally means that the people you are dealing with tolerate very little feedback or infidelity. As Ian mentions, it is a technique used in gangs and organized crime to keep "problem customers" in line.
Our thumbs are an indispensible component in our fine motor skills, and the lack of one would make our lives considerably more complicated, even if only temporarily.
Remember in "The Pope of Greenwich Village" when one of the characters has his thumbs amputated by the local mob?

Marie Scarano
Italy
Local time: 04:03
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 81
Grading comment
Thank you very much!!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Gayle Wallimann: That's it! Wasn't there a scene like this in the "Godfather", also?
3 mins

agree  airmailrpl: glad you have had no first-hand experience
14 mins

agree  DGK T-I: sadly, it is as literal as it seems
19 mins

agree  xxxJoeYeckley
1 hr

agree  Christopher Crockett: Yes,though in some "families" it's the knees that get whacked.Different strokes,same general idea.Main character in "The Friends of Eddy Coyle" is nicknamed "Thumbs":he messed up. Nothing personal, they just put his hand in a desk drawer & kicked it shut.
7 hrs

agree  J. Leo
5 days

agree  Rafaqat Dogar
6 days
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

55 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Traditional 2nd request for payment by mafia debt collector.


Explanation:
... and they do mean it!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-05-28 07:28:23 (GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

Yes, it means literally.

1st request: A personal visit and an oral encouragement.
2nd request: Breaking of thumbs and/or knee caps.
3rd request: Termination.

Sven Petersson
Sweden
Local time: 04:03
Native speaker of: Native in SwedishSwedish, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 156

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  airmailrpl: they usually break knee caps
3 mins
  -> :o)

agree  DGK T-I: agree. Sometimes a user who is eg:British AND not a criminal may use this as a joking threat(alluding to 'the godfather'etc -not necessarily a good joke!),but it is used literally by some criminals
17 mins
  -> Indeed!

agree  Christopher Crockett: Yes. Fingers, too. Eddie Coyle (see above) was nicknamed "Eddie Fingers" not "Thumbs," as I said to Marie's answer. Same general principle. A rather effective collection technique, apparently.
7 hrs
  -> :o)
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