What Is the Meaning of the Ring Finger?

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Many people wear rings on different fingers, with the left-hand ring finger typically reserved for rings with romantic symbolism, such as promise rings, engagement rings, or wedding bands. Learn about the ring finger's history and significance.


What Is the Meaning of the Ring Finger?

The ring finger, also known as the annular or fourth finger, is the fourth digit on the human hand, located between the middle and pinky or little fingers. The finger is known anatomically as the digitus annularis, digitus quartus, or digitus IV, which translate to ring finger, fourth finger, and finger four, respectively.


What Is the Wedding Ring Finger?

People wear their wedding and engagement rings on their wedding and engagement fingers. The fourth finger on the left hand is the wedding ring finger in Western culture. Different engagement and wedding ring placements have different meanings. People used to believe that a vein ran directly from the fourth finger to the heart before modern science discovered the functions of the circulatory system. This hand-heart connection became known as vena amoris, which is Latin for "love vein." Because the left hand is associated with evil in some religions, the wedding ring finger is the right ring finger. In other cultures, the right hand is regarded as a symbol of trust.


Origins of the Ring Finger

There have been several ring finger wedding traditions throughout history.

Ancient Rome: At the betrothal ceremony, ancient Romans gave their brides-to-be rings; today, this has evolved into proposals.

During the Middle Ages, brides wore the ring on their thumb, then index finger, then middle finger, then fourth finger, and finally the ring finger during the wedding ceremony.

Eastern Orthodox Church: Before marriage, women in the Eastern Orthodox Church wore their rings on their left hand, then transferred them to the ring finger of their right hand.


Wedding Ring Customs Around the World

Wedding or engagement ring finger traditions differ across cultures, regions, and religions. Wedding rings are worn on the right hand in Germany, Ukraine, Norway, and Bulgaria. Grooms wear rings on their right hand in some Asian cultures, but brides wear them on their left. Grooms in the Muslim religion do not wear wedding rings. The groom traditionally places a ring on the bride's right index finger because it is the most visible digit.

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