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What is the Origin of the Hand Gesture Known as "Flipping the Bird?"

Not Einstein 2008/12/04 00:25:08
This is the most useless piece of information I've wasted my time reading.  I flip you the bird.
I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on SH.
I like the Sri Lankan equivalent of the 'finger'
Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
I like watches.
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None of the above
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In Western cultures, the finger (as in giving someone the finger) is a well-known obscene hand gesture made by extending the middle finger of the hand while bending the other fingers into the palm. A known variation includes extending the thumb as well.

Alternate names
The gesture is also known as the "bird", "flipping someone off", "shooting a bird" and innumerable other terms. Generally when the "bird" is given, it is intended to mean "f**k you". When both hands are used (for emphasis), it may be known as the "double-barreled salute". A variation of the gesture is also made by showing someone the back of the hand, with three fingers extended, with the comment "read between the lines."

Origin
The origin of this gesture is speculative, and quite possibly thousands of years old. It is identified as the digitus impudicus ("impudent finger") in Ancient Roman writings[1] and reference is made to using the finger in the ancient Greek comedy The Clouds by Aristophanes. It was defined there as a gesture intended to insult another person. The widespread usage of the finger in many cultures is likely due to the geographical influence of the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman civilization. Another possible origin of this gesture can be found in the first-century Mediterranean world, where extending the digitus impudicus was one of many methods used to divert the ever present threat of the evil eye.

Another possible origin is the phallic imagery of the raised middle finger (the middle finger being the longest finger on the human hand), similar to the Italian version of the bent elbow insult. Also, there is a variation of the finger where it can be done by performing The Fangul, by sticking out the finger during the throwing motion.

A popular urban legend states that during the Hundred Years' War, the French would cut off the middle fingers of captured English archers so they would be unable to use their bows, and that after the Battle of Agincourt, the victorious English showed the French that their middle fingers were still intact. This legend is also said of the V sign.

In other Western cultures
In the UK, Ireland, Australia, India and New Zealand, the V sign (given with back of the hand towards the recipient) serves a similar purpose, although "the finger" is sometimes used.

In non-Western cultures
In Iraq and several other Middle Eastern countries, the "thumbs up" gesture means the same as "the finger" in Western countries, which can result in misunderstandings. However, in Iran the Westernized middle-finger gesture seems to have been recognized as the offensive gesture and the "thumbs up" now a salute.

In some African and Caribbean countries, a similarly obscene gesture is extending all five digits with the palm facing forward, meaning "you have five fathers" (thus calling someone a bastard).

In South Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka, certain limited social circles use the middle finger gesture in the same context that it is used in western cultures. The same is true for most South Asian countries. However, in Sri Lanka another version of the gesture exists, especially among the social circles not exposed to the western culture. In that version, the index finger is used in a similar manner to mean the same. In Egypt, another version of the gesture is used by erecting the middle finger inwards to the palm. The gesture is considered extremely vulgar and stands for the sexual act of fingering.

Notable uses of the gesture
* Airmen of the U.S. 91st Bombardment Group (H) in England during World War II used what their commander, Colonel Stanley Wray, referred to as "the rigid digit salute". The gesture was intended to poke gentle fun at fellow airmen for minor acts of incompetency.
* In 1968, captured crew members of the USS Pueblo (AGER-2) used a discreet version of the finger as a covert signal of "obscene derisiveness and contempt" (quoted from a newspaper caption) in propaganda photos taken by their North Korean captors. The gesture was explained to the North Koreans as 'the Hawaiian Good Luck sign'.
* On July 9, 2003, Philip Wong Yu-hong (Chinese: 黃宜弘), a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong in favor of the unpopular article 23, was seen giving democracy protesters the finger as he left the Legislative Council building.
* On February 2, 2007, Mirek Topolánek, prime minister of the Czech republic, gave the finger to left-wing deputies in the Czech parliament [9] and later explained the gesture to the media and the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic as a friendly gesture towards Miroslav Kalousek, one of his cabinet ministers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_(gesture)
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Top Opinion

  • noopinion 2008/12/04 13:56:06
    This is the most useless piece of information I've wasted my time reading. I...
    noopinion
    +6
    lmao...didn't even think I wanted to know this but I guess now I am a little bit smarter than when I woke up this morning. information ive wasted reading flip bird lmao guess smarter woke

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  • DemonKiTTiE ♥ In MUSE I Tru... 2008/12/28 06:46:12
    I like watches.
    DemonKiTTiE ♥ In MUSE I Trust ♥
    +1
    and thumbs up and "the bird" to you all... don't make me use the V sign...
  • êļļĴáŸê 2008/12/09 06:19:58
    This is the most useless piece of information I've wasted my time reading. I...
    êļļĴáŸê
    +1
    ...out of affection...
  • crsone 2008/12/08 19:40:19
    Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
    crsone
    +1
    Love stuff like this
  • chiglet - Daedric Sigil Mag... 2008/12/05 14:41:40
    Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
    chiglet - Daedric Sigil Mage, Smirotiel
    +1
    Why it;s a good idea to learn a bit about the cultural norms of any country one plans on going to :)
    informative wondered learn cultural norms country plans
  • BatCountry 2008/12/05 04:04:40 (edited)
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    BatCountry
    +2
    It all makes sense now..

  • Sister Jean 2008/12/05 00:59:45
    None of the above
    Sister Jean
    +4
    I always learn sumin new here in learn sumin
  • Joker 23 *I AM THE LAW* 2008/12/04 21:06:48
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    Joker 23 *I AM THE LAW*
    +2
    I believe it was during the Hundred Years war. As you stated the French would cut off the "middle" fingers of the Englishmen because they were excellent with archery. Anyway there was some battle where the English won and they flipped off the French showing they still had their fingers.
  • Eddie 2008/12/04 19:13:36 (edited)
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    Eddie
    +2
    I guess this makes me smarter that my friends who don't know this un-needed information.
  • vote mobile lady time to CYA 2008/12/04 18:37:44
    None of the above
    vote mobile lady time to CYA
    +3
    That was really interesting... I had no idea and I am the queen of trivia...
  • Bring it ~STS~Freewill Dirt... 2008/12/04 17:52:16
    None of the above
    Bring it ~STS~Freewill Dirty Pheonix
    +4
    I take it as a gesture of intamacy....... gesture intamacy
  • Joker 2... Bring i... 2008/12/04 21:07:30
  • Sono Violado 2008/12/04 16:50:08 (edited)
    Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
    Sono Violado
    +2
    well not so much wondered, but was curious once or twice.
  • dtpga 2008/12/04 16:46:30
    Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
    dtpga
  • CitizenErased 2008/12/04 14:52:57
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    CitizenErased
    +3
    Raves for everyone!
  • noopinion 2008/12/04 13:56:06
    This is the most useless piece of information I've wasted my time reading. I...
    noopinion
    +6
    lmao...didn't even think I wanted to know this but I guess now I am a little bit smarter than when I woke up this morning. information ive wasted reading flip bird lmao guess smarter woke
  • ,kudfhv 2008/12/04 10:53:04
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    ,kudfhv
  • De'~ 2008/12/04 07:10:56 (edited)
    Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
    De'~
    +2
    oh the ol' fangul... but why is it referred as a bird...I'm still trying to find that in the article...for every question I read on site I then come away with more questions...

    informative wondered ol fangul referred bird article read site questions <
  • Ruth 2008/12/04 05:29:36
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    Ruth
  • Jcap ~ Peace ~ 2008/12/04 02:06:46 (edited)
    Very informative; I have always wondered about this.
    Jcap ~ Peace ~
    +5
    Great information to have if traveling overseas. I think I'll keep my hands in my pockets. informative wondered information traveling overseas ill hand pocket
  • Janice 2008/12/04 00:51:53
  • Jeff 2008/12/04 00:37:09
    None of the above
    Jeff
    +2
    I heard it originated from medieval archers who would taunt the opposing King after he had threatened to remove the enemies archers string fingers, in a fit of anger.
  • Citizen... Jeff 2008/12/04 14:51:45
    CitizenErased
    +3
    That's the British equivalent which is sticking the index and middle finger up at someone together in a "V".

    british equivalent sticking index middle finger
  • Mike 2008/12/04 00:32:28
  • SparkleyPie 2008/12/04 00:32:02
    I prefer the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger; I give to my friends on...
    SparkleyPie
    +5
    *considers only raving people I'd like to flip off from now on*
  • Not Ein... Sparkle... 2008/12/04 00:34:17
    Not Einstein
    +6
    Me too. Click that thumbs up while loudly proclaiming, "F U"
  • Eddie Sparkle... 2008/12/04 19:11:33
  • PigsOnSoma 2008/12/04 00:30:50
    None of the above
    PigsOnSoma
    +4
    The African version, me thinks. It's different.
  • Not Ein... PigsOnSoma 2008/12/04 00:33:01
    Not Einstein
    +3
    Do you have a picture?
  • PigsOnSoma Not Ein... 2008/12/04 00:37:27
    PigsOnSoma
    +3
    Err, no - I'm just going by what was written above:

    "...In some African and Caribbean countries, a similarly obscene gesture is extending all five digits with the palm facing forward, meaning "you have five fathers" (thus calling someone a bastard)..."
  • Not Ein... PigsOnSoma 2008/12/04 00:39:39
    Not Einstein
    +4
    Lol, ok. my eyes actually skipped right over "African" and went straight to "Caribbean," because I would so much love to be on an island right now!
  • PigsOnSoma Not Ein... 2008/12/04 00:51:57
    PigsOnSoma
    +3
    I understand...

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2014/08/22 21:43:14

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