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to point the finger at

Idiom: to point the finger at; used as a verb

First Example: When Charlene asked her kids who ate the cake in the
fridge, her son Oscar pointed the finger
at his sister, Michelle.  Of course, Charlene knew it was Oscar because
he had frosting on his face, so he got into trouble for lying as well.
Meaning: To “point the finger at” someone means to blame a
person for something bad that happened. 
The expression comes from the act of pointing at a guilty person, often done
by a witness in court (who points at the criminal).  However, while possible, it is not required
that the accuser literally point his/her finger at someone in order to blame
him/her.  In fact, this idiom is often
used when the person being blamed isn’t even present, as in the next example:

Melanie got into trouble at work, she pointed
the finger at
everyone but herself. 
She blamed her late projects on Todd, claiming he kept interrupting her
with other projects, and she said Chris said it was OK for her to use the phone
to make person calls.
Here, Melanie is blaming others for
her bad behavior at work.  In addition to
personal blame, the expression can also be in a larger sense, as in the
following example:


When people ask me about what caused
the economic crisis in 2008, I usually point
the finger
at the Iraq war.  It was
an extremely expensive ordeal.
While I agree that the expense of
the war had some effect on the economy, I think you’re overestimating its
influence.  Real estate prices and the
stock market were really blame.

When asked what was the number one
cause of the in the United States, the first economist pointed the finger at the Iraq war. 
However, the other economist argued that he should have pointed the
finger at real estate prices. 

This idiom is from LSI’s book “Reading
Savvy,” which is used in the Level 5 Reading classes. For more
information, please visit 

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