To have sticky fingers

To have sticky fingers

Idiom: To have sticky fingers


  • To be a thief.
  • a tendency to steal things

The phrase is used more for a petty thief rather than a hardened criminal though.


“The manager fired the cashier because he had sticky fingers. He stole more than $200 in a month.”

The last person we hired as a cashier turned out to have sticky fingers.

The clerk—who had sticky fingers—got fired.

The little boy had sticky fingers and was always taking his father’s small change.

Be careful about leaving your things lying around. Some people here have got very sticky fingers!

Money had started disappearing from the treasury coffers so, they realised that someone had sticky fingers.

One of the new staff had sticky fingers because the books never seemed to balance anymore.

That waiter has got sticky fingers. I just saw him put our cash in his trouser pocket.

A lot of things have gone missing lately from the store cupboard. Do you think someone has sticky fingers?

I hope he doesn’t leave any cash lying around when the family visit. His uncle is a little sticky-fingered.

You’d better lock up your belongings before handing your keys to a valet; some of them have sticky fingers.

There are too many sticky fingers around for me to leave my purse unattended.


This phrase is from Britain in the mid-1800s. Some say it originated around 1930–35

According to other trivia sources, petty theft, ie “sticky fingers” came from the gold mining industry where those sifting the dig plate put sap/honey on their fingers to collect gold dust When weighing for payment. Thus, stealing from the gold finder & pocketing value from the bankers. (Of course, this could be a myth retold by my grandfather – born in 1899 – from his mining grandfather!)



What does the idiom ‘To have sticky ’ mean?
To be a thief.

How do you use ‘To have sticky ’ in a sentence?
“The manager fired the cashier because he had sticky fingers. He stole more than $200 in a month.”

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