Middle Finger History

Monday, May 08, 2006

The finger, as in giving someone the finger, is a hand gesture made by extending the middle finger of the hand while bending the other fingers at the second knuckle. The Finger is a silent way of saying "fuck you", using the finger as a phallic symbol. The reference to coitus may be strengthened by first wetting the finger or by sucking on it.

A story that refers to the gestures of longbowmen fighting in the English army at the Battle of Agincourt in particular is often mentioned when we speak about the Middle Finger history.

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore be incapable of fighting in the future.


This famous weapon was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew"). Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, "See, we can still pluck yew! PLUCK YEW!" Since "pluck yew" is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative F, and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute are mistakenly thought to have something to do with an intimate encounter.

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird."

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The single, middle finger is very much an American getsture. Here in the UK, until the single finger percolated over from the States, a two finger salute was much more common. Two fingers are needed to draw a longbow and it's more likely that it was the British two fingered salute that was used against the French. In fact, the two fingered salute is almost unheard of outside of the UK.
Isn't the American single finger more sexual in it's origins?

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last I heard it had a direct connection with American Sign Language as the gesture for said specific profanity.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to do some research before you go around perpetuating logically improbable and historically impossible nonsense. As the British reader indicated, displaying the middle finger is a distinctly American gesture. Furthermore, the word 'fuck' has foggy origins but is generally considered germanic (early 14th century) in origin and to have meant alternately, 'to strike' or 'to penetrate'.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous greedz said...

femeie muie.jpg?
i lol-ed :D

10:06 PM  
Anonymous rampa said...

Hi !
I'm not sure this story il true…

I've heard (but, yes, I can't prove it, sorry) that the greeks (5th or 4th century BC) used that sign to piss off their adversaries in a battle (The battles were very well organized at that time…).
But I heard the same kind of stories about the British "double-finger thing" : it was to remind the french (during the 100-years war) that if they were caught, the index and the major would be removed in order to prevent them to use their longbow…
Funny : the exact same story from two different points of view.
I really think that it was the first human being who could think that has invented it. Maybe it's first thaught was to say "I'm thinking" and the second one was "Hey! Look at my fingers, it's just like a big d**k" ! ;-)

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

References to the middle finger go back to greek an Roman times. The version here is indeed confused with the origins of the "V" in the UK. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_(gesture)
http://www.ooze.com/finger/html/history.html

3:09 AM  

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