Ring finger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ring finger
The ring finger on this hand is extended (left hand).
Artery Proper palmar digital arteries,
dorsal digital arteries
Vein Palmar digital veins, dorsal digital veins
Nerve Dorsal digital nerves of radial nerve,
Dorsal digital nerves of ulnar nerve,
Proper palmar digital nerves of median nerve
Latin Digitus IV manus, digitus quartus manus, digitus annularis manus, digitus medicinalis
TA A01.1.00.056
FMA 24948
Anatomical terminology

The ring finger is the fourth proximal[clarification needed] digit of the human hand, and the second most ulnar finger, located between the middle finger and the little finger. It is also called digitus medicinalis, the fourth finger, digitus annularis, digitus quartus, or digitus IV in anatomy. It may also be referred to as the third finger,[1] excluding the thumb.


According to László A. Magyar, the names of the ring finger in many languages reflect an ancient belief that it is a magical finger. It is named after magic or rings, or called nameless (for example, in Chinese: 无名指, unnamed finger).[2] In Sanskrit and other languages like Finnish or Russian, the ring finger is called respectively - "Anamika", "Nimetön" and "Безымянный" ("nameless"). In Arabic and Hebrew, the ring finger is called respectively - bansur (meaning "victory") - and kmitsa (meaning "taking a handful").

Wedding ring[edit]

Both hands are wearing a wedding ring on their ring fingers.

Before medical science discovered how the circulatory system functioned, people believed that a vein ran directly from the third finger on the left hand to the heart.[citation needed] Because of the hand–heart connection, they chose the descriptive name vena amoris, Latin for the vein of love, for this particular vein.[3]

Based upon this name, their contemporaries, purported experts in the field of matrimonial etiquette, wrote that it would only be fitting that the wedding ring be worn on this finger.[citation needed] By wearing the ring on the third finger of the left hand, a married couple symbolically declares their eternal love for each other.

In Western cultures, a wedding ring is traditionally worn on the ring finger. This developed from the Roman "anulus pronubis" when the man gave a ring to the woman at the betrothal ceremony. Blessing the wedding ring and putting it on the bride's finger dates from the 11th century. In medieval Europe, the Christian wedding ceremony placed the ring in sequence on the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers of the left hand. The ring was then left on the ring finger. In a few European countries, the ring is worn on the left hand prior to marriage, then transferred to the right during the ceremony. For example, a Greek Orthodox bride wears the ring on the left hand prior to the ceremony, then moves it to the right hand after the wedding. In England, the 1549 Prayer Book declared "the ring shall be placed on the left hand". By the 17th and 18th centuries the ring could be found on any finger after the ceremony — even on the thumb.

The wedding ring is generally worn on the ring finger of the left hand in the former British Empire, certain parts of Western Europe, certain parts of Catholic Central and Eastern Europe (and some not so), and Mexico. These include: Australia, Botswana, Canada, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the US; France, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, and Finland; Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia, and Slovenia.

The wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand in some Orthodox and a small number of Catholic European countries, some Protestant Western European, as well as some Central and South American Catholic countries.[4] In Eastern Europe, these include: Bulgaria, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine. In Central or Western Europe, these include: Austria, Denmark, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Netherlands [if not Catholic], Norway, and (Catholic) Spain. In Central or South America, these include: Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela.

The ring is worn on the right hand until the actual wedding day, when it is moved to the left hand in Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria as well as in Brazil. In traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies, the ring is placed on the index finger, but other traditions record placing it on the middle finger or the thumb, most commonly in recent times.[5] Today, the ring usually is moved to the ring finger after the ceremony. Some Jewish grooms have adopted wearing a wedding ring.

In Sinhala and Tamil culture, the groom wears the wedding ring on his right hand and bride wears it on her left hand ring finger. This can be seen in countries like Sri Lanka where there is a rich Sinhala and Tamil cultural influence in the society.[6]

A wedding ring is not a traditional part of the religious Muslim wedding and wedding rings are not included in most Islamic countries, However, if a wedding ring is worn in an Islamic country, it may be worn on either the left (such is the custom in Iran) or the right ring finger (as in Jordan). As opposed to the wedding ring, use of a ring to denote betrothal or engagement is quite prevalent in Muslim countries, especially those in West and South Asia. Muslim engagement rings are typically worn on the right finger by men, and the left finger by women.

Rings are not traditional in an Indian wedding. However, in modern society it is becoming a practice to wear rings for engagements and not for actual marriage. Though the left hand is considered inauspicious for religious activities, a ring (not to be called wedding ring) is still worn on the left hand. Men generally wear the rings on the right hand and the women on the left hands. If a wedding ring is worn, the ring is worn on the left ring finger mostly for men.


  1. ^ "Third finger". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  2. ^ Magyar, László A. "Digitus Medicinalis — the Etymology of the Name" Actes du Congr. Intern. d'Hist. de Med. XXXII., Antwerpen. 175-179., 1990, retrieved September 2, 2009
  3. ^ Mukherji, Subha (2006), Law and Representation in Early Modern Drama, Cambridge University Press, pp. 35−36, ISBN 0521850355 
  4. ^ Why in the Orthodox tradition do we wear the wedding ring on the left hand?, antiochian.org
  5. ^ David Sperber, in: Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael Vol. 4, Jerusalem 1995, pp. 92-93 (Hebrew)
  6. ^ "A Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu Wedding" (PDF). 

External links[edit]