Why is the ringfinger associated with marriage?

Since the classic Roman time the ring finger has been known to be associated with the wearing of rings in married men and women. The literature indicates that this early belief appears to origin in the idea that a nerve, vein or artery runs directly from the 4th digit to the heart, and therefore it became judged to be the seat of the emotions. Unfortunately medical science today appears not able to present any anatomical evidence that confirms this idea. Nevertheless, there are various other interesting explanations which describe how the ring finger became associated with marriage!

Despite the missing of anatomical evidence for a connection with the heart, there is alternative evidence which suggest that wearing a ring on the ring finger can be associated with the ‘control’ of brute emotions.


Anecdotal evidence is found in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova from Venice, who became known as one of the most famous ‘womanisers’ of all times. Casanova’s life as an adventurous writer took him across Europe, and in his memoirs about his stay in Spain we learn of the relative length of his fingers. Casanova described a dispute with the painter Anton Raphael Mengs about the ‘human condition’ of the ratio between the index finger and the ring finger. While Menge was claiming that his longer index finger was the correct human condition, Casanova claimed that his long finger was ”like that of all the children descended from Adam’.

But Casanova was not aware that his claim was basically only true for men only!


Professor John Manning from the UK presented two books devoted to the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’. In his first book, Manning presented some evidence that the wearing of rings in married women can be understood as an act of ‘advertising’ their commitment to their marriage.

Additionally, the study also demonstrated that a considerable lower percentage of the married men (29%) was wearing a ring on their ring finger – while the percentage was considerably higher for the married women (71%).


Today especially the length of the ring finger became known as a prenatal marker for masculinity, and in all regions of the world studies have confirmed that in males the absolute length of the ring finger is usually longer than the absolute length of the index finger. And some studies have pointed out that the sexual dimorphism in finger measures is even more strongly expressed in the distal extent of fingertips than in the length of fingers.

In his second book ‘The Finger book’ Prof. John Manning describes a few references to scientific studies dating back to the 19th and early 20 century:

“The ‘Casanova pattern’ in the fingers is considered by some to be the mark of an ugly hand – an atavistic hand recalling brute instincts and behaviours, modelling the forms of the fingers of our monkey relatives. Thus the ‘beast’ in us is represented by the ring finger while the ‘beauty’ resides in the index finger. This notion has led to suggestions that the femininised ‘Mengs pattern’ is of a purer type, a hand which signifies emancipation from our primate ancestry. … Science, however, has been slow to identify the importance of such connections. That there is a sex difference in the relative length of men’s and women’s fing and index fingers has been known for more than a century. Compared to sex differences arising at puberty the finger ratio is modest in its size and visibility, and it has been neglegted.”

These considerations provide an explanation about why the 4th finger became known as the ‘ring finger’. The ringfinger became also known as the 4th finger or the annulus (digitus annularis).


The following books about fingers are highly recommended to read much more about fingers (presenting various elements that can be described as ‘building stones’ in Mult-Perspective Palm Reading):

Fingerology (2010), authors: Hillary J. Kener & Michael Zeide

The Finger Book (2008), author: John T. Manning

Digit Ratio (2002), author: John T. Manning

Sexually facial characteristics.

Sexually facial characteristics.

Your finger length.

Your finger length.

Another finger secret:

Your fing length ratio (2D:4D) appears to be related to prenatal testosterone and estrogen levels and pubertal face growth. Several studies have recently provided evidence that 2D:4D is associated with other-rated facial masculinity and dominance, but not with facialmetric measures of masculinity. The researchers found that localized face shape differences, shown here to be sexually dimorphic and related to ratings of dominance, were associated with direct and indirect measurements of 2D:4D.

In this study Robert P. Burriss, Anthony C. Little, & Emma C. Nelson examined various localized features of the face, showing nose width, jaw angle, and lip height to be sexually dimorphic.

The researchers from Research reported from The University of Liverpool (+ Stirling University) then had faces rated for dominance and saw that the most dimorphic characteristics were those most associated with rated dominance, with typically masculine characteristics tending to be associated with high ratings of dominance.

Finally, 2D:4D measurements were made using three different techniques. High (feminine) values of 2D:4D were associated with feminine facial characteristics in women, but not in men. It was concluded that certain aspects of facial development are governed by factors that are established prenatally.

These aspects may be associated with perceptions of the self by others that are important in the social environment, particularly in terms of intra-sexual competition and mate acquisition.


Adult males have shorter up­per faces, for their width, than fe­males do, re­search­ers found. This male face is wid­er, as ap­par­ent from the yel­low ver­ti­cal lines when he is com­pared to the face above. Yet the up­per fa­cial height is about the same, as is ev­i­dent when com­par­ing him to the face left of him. The re­search­ers placed the yellow lines against fa­cial ref­er­ence points known as the na­si­on, zy­gion and pros­thi­on, shown at up­per left.

Height, finger length and sex differences.
What they say about men with long ring fingers.
The finger book
Digit Ratio
More finger length news

Male vs. female facial characteristics.