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Last updated at 13:08 BST, Friday, 31 August 2012

Give something the thumbs up

Sini Zeng of China cycles past her coach as he gives the thumbs up during the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Sini Zeng of China passes her coach on her way to a gold medal in the pursuit cycling event during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty

Today's Phrase

To give something the thumbs up means to approve of it or show you support it.

For example:

Daisy's cake was delicious – I'd definitely give it the thumbs up.

Wait until I give the thumbs up before you send that email to head office.

The boss just gave me the thumbs up to take three days off next week.

Don't confuse it with

To 'thumb through something' means to casually look through a book or magazine.

For example:

I was in a rush so I only got to thumb through your novel on the train.

At the hairdresser's salon, Helen enjoyed thumbing through their selection of magazines.

Interesting fact

The gesture of thumbs up is often believed to originate in ancient Rome following gladiatorial combat when the fate of a defeated warrior was decided by spectators watching the event. They would gesture either with thumbs downturned - to mimic the stabbing motion of a dagger - to indicate the warrior be executed, or if the warrior had fought well, an upturned thumb - or thumbs up - would signify the warrior could be spared.

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