1. The hand closed tightly with the fingers bent against the palm.
2. Informal A grasp; a clutch: had a fortune in their fists and let it go.
tr.v. fist·ed, fist·ing, fists
1. To clench into a fist.
2. To grasp with the fist.
3. Vulgar To insert the hand into the rectum or vagina of (someone) as a means of sexual stimulation.
[Middle English, from Old English fȳst; see penkwe in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.