Surname used by a Jewish, Eastern European family previously known as Finkelstein.

Particularly confusing to Irish Catholics in Boston, who good naturedly try to trace kinship with members of the family as soon as they hear the name.

The name is also unrelated to Finland.

The idea of substituting Finn for Finkelstein originated with a Boston member of the Finkelstein family with an unusually dry sense of humor. Your faithful correspondent is one of his descendents.

The Finn is a shadowy, strange character who appears in Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. The Finn wears a battered tweed jacket, smokes Partegas, and is fond of pickled herring. He has a set of large, backwards-pointing yellow teeth, tiny ears and a head that seems to be built for aerodynamics. He makes his home in a dilapidated building in the Sprawl, which seems to be held up by walls, piles and towers of junk. At the core of the accreted garbage is the Finn's inner sanctum - a spotlessly white clean room, protected by walls of electronic jamming circuitry.

The Finn's business is somewhat unclear (or rather, undefined), but it is undoubtably shady. In Neuromancer Molly pays him to scan Case for bugs and harmful devices. He also helps identify the AI, Wintermute. However, his usual business seems to be as a fence for stolen software, or more rarely actual physical items. The Finn is a close acquaintance of Molly Millions.

Some time between Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, the Finn seems to have been killed, or at least ceased to exist in a biological form. His mind lives on as software, a personality construct housed in an armoured shell bolted to the pavement in a dark dusty back alley filled with junk in the heart of the Sprawl. Seeing with laser light and talking through a loudspeaker, the personality construct doubles as the local oracle. In front of the shell that houses his construct lie gifts - alcohol, cigarettes, voodoo symbols in flour (or occasionally cocaine) - none of which he can touch. He seems to be reasonably satisfied.

Finn is also an unpasteurised and vegetarian soft cheese, produced by the English cheesemaker Charlie Westhead of the renowned Neal's Yard Creamery. It is known to be the only triple-cream cheese to be made in Britain.

Made from cow's milk, the texture of Finn is smooth and firm, and the flavour is crisp and acid with a hint of mushroom, not unlike a traditional camembert.

The cheese is ripened for between two and four weeks before ideal consumption. The fat content of the Finn is a spectacularly heroic 75%

research source:

finger-pointing syndrome = F = firebottle

finn v.

[IRC] To pull rank on somebody based on the amount of time one has spent on IRC. The term derives from the fact that IRC was originally written in Finland in 1987. There may be some influence from the `Finn' character in William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel "Count Zero", who at one point says to another (much younger) character "I have a pair of shoes older than you are, so shut up!"

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Do not trust the Webster_1913 entry below, it's is just plain wrong. Finns, or any of other peoples Webster lists, are not Mongolian. This theory was the accepted one in 1913, but it was ultimately based on Swedish ideas of racial superiority over other European peoples. This is one of the precursors of the "superior Aryan race" theory. (And, in the Devil's advocate point of view: even if the Aryan race is superior, excluding parts of it for obscure reasons is still not right.)

One piece of evidence misinterpreted are the European people of Sami, who live in north Fennoscandia and speak an Uralic language of the Fennic branch. Stereotypically, their hair is dark, and stature short, which lead to theories about genetic or linguistic relationships to Asian peoples, even if they look like nothing but Europeans. Aggravating this problem of misinterpretation are some Asian and Turkic peoples speaking Uralic languages, such as the Nenets. In reality, the Sami, if anyone, are original North Europeans, having lived in North Fennoscandia long before the Finns (or recent immigrants such as the Scandinavians). The origin of the Sami is unknown to this day: the genetic "Sami pattern" is not found anywhere else. Nevertheless, their European genetic origin has been confirmed by DNA studies.

While the Finnish genes show some relation to the Sami, Finns are of the same stock as Balts, Germans, Russians, etc. Finns are one of the oldest peoples in the whole Europe. On a genetic map, the Sami stand out from the rest, the Finns a little less, and the Estonians share about 2/3 of the genes. According to Marja-Liisa Suontaus, 25-50% of Finnish genes are Baltic, about 25% are Siberian and 25-50% are Germanic. The total amount of "Asian" influence is about 1.5%, not much different from the surroundings.

The old theory caused problems with e.g. the Oriental Exclusion Act. Mr. Charles Kangas speaks at the time when Oriental Exclusion was in force:

The chief physical characteristics of the Mongolians are as follows: They are short of stature, with little hair on the body or face; they have yellow-brown skins, black eyes, black hair, short flat noses, and oblique eyes. ... They (Finns) are almost universally of light skin, blue or gray eyes, and light hair. No people of foreign birth applying in this section of the country (USA) for the full rights of citizenship are lighter skinned than those born in Finland. ... Confessedly Finland has often been over-run by the Teutons, and by other branches of the human family who, with their descendants, have remained within her borders and are now called Finns. They are in the main indistinguishable in their physical characteristics from those of purer Finnish blood. Intermarriages have been frequent over a very long period of time. If the Finns were originally Mongols, modifying influences have continued until they are now among the whitest people in Europe.
This letter was from a judge who ruled that Finns are not subject to the Oriental Exclusion Act.

Currently, it's been debated what you have to be to be a Finn. For example, the "Finland-Swedes" are Finns speaking Swedish for one reason or the other. Another one is immigrants. Anyone can be an American, if an hyphenated American, but Finns find it difficult to name first-generation immigrants Finns irrespective of legal nationality. Second-generation immigrants, provided that they can speak Finnish without any accent (or with a local accent), are usually considered Finns, especially if they have a Finnish parent.

By the way, Finns don't call themselves "Finns" or "Finnish" - it'd be hard when the sounds F or SH doesn't exist in native Finnish at all! One theory is that "Finn" is the same root as "find" and "wanderer". Another theory is that the "fen" (suo) is a translation of the originally Baltic loan zeme, which means "earth, ground, bog".

In modern Finnish, it's suomi (root: suome-). So, the country is Suomi, the language suomi (or Finnish language suomen kieli); a Finn (noun) or Finnish (adjective) is suomalainen. (The root is suomalais-; e.g. suomalaissyntyinen "Finnish-born".) I think the word "Finn" is unaesthetic, but it's better than mispronouncing and misconjugating suomi beyond recognition. Already the Estonians call us "soome".

Finnish Genealogy Society, Mailing list. A message from URL:
Suomalaiset Pakanasivut: Suomalaisten alkuperä. URL:

Finns (?), n. pl.; sing. Finn. (Ethnol.)


Natives of Finland; Finlanders.


A branch of the Mongolian race, inhabiting Northern and Eastern Europe, including the Magyars, Bulgarians, Permians, Lapps, and Finlanders. [Written also Fins.]


© Webster 1913

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