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The History of the middle finger!

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posted on May, 16 2008 @ 09:09 PM
I was sent an e-mail about this from a friend of mine.

I did a little research and found this info on it!

Giving the Finger

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 they would 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!


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! 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."

What do you guys think of this!

posted on May, 16 2008 @ 09:13 PM
Wow that's so interesting, I never thought about it until now, why the middle finger is used as we do, almost universally even! That's awesome...almost as awesome as the history of the "F" word ....great thread!

Learn something new here every hour!

posted on May, 16 2008 @ 11:10 PM
Hmmmm, well, I'm kind of sad, yet intruiged. I thought I started it in the 80's. Go figure.


Great research though, who would have thought?

posted on May, 17 2008 @ 04:12 AM
You're almost correct..just a slight tad off centre though.. but it depends on who or what your source of reference is and which you prefer to believe..

It was the fore finger and middle finger that were cut off.

According to a popular legend the two-fingers salute and/or V sign derives from the gestures of longbowmen fighting in the English army at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years' War.[5][13] The story claims that the French cut off the index and middle fingers of the right hand of any captured archers, and so the gesture was a sign of defiance from the greatly outnumbered English. Historian Juliet Barker quotes Jean Le Fevre (who fought on the English side at Agincourt) as saying that Henry V included a reference to the French cutting off longbowmen's fingers in his pre-battle speech.[14] If this is correct it confirms that the story was around at the time of Agincourt, although it doesn't necessarily mean that the French practised it, just that Henry found it useful for propaganda, and it does not show that the 'two-fingers salute' is derived from the hypothetical behaviour of English archers at that battle.
Although the actual true origin of it is still debated.


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[2] 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. 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.[3]

There is a popular, but apocryphal[4], story about English bowmen waving fingers at the French army during the Hundred Years' War.

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.

So both sides of the coin but the two finger salute does seem to have a bit more history and myth allocated to it.

Two fingers does have more strength to the story than only the middle as it takes two fingers to pull a bow string. Archers were trained from a young age to pull the Longbow which had a 'draw' (pull pressure) of 200lbs.

Many men in medieval England were capable of shooting bows from 150–200 pounds (670–900 N)—deformed skeletons of archers have been studied, revealing spur like growths on their bones where the over-developed muscles pulled. However, these men did train daily from a very young age and their lives depended on being able to use such powerful bows.

Try pulling that with only one finger....

posted on May, 17 2008 @ 07:24 AM
There are many different stories about how the middle finger got it's meaning.

... n/m quote removed, i see this has already been covered.

[edit on 17-5-2008 by scientist]

posted on May, 17 2008 @ 09:19 AM
I don't have problem with the two-finger salute as that can be found connected to history, and in fact is a form of victory salute. I am not offended if I see anybody doing the two finger salute, as I know it's origin, although I have been offended by the one finger salute.

It is strange how one digit can offend where two doesn't. Here in the UK, the two-finger salute is common, and doesn't phase me in the slightest, but football hooligans are resorting to the middle finger, which as I said, for some bizarre reason I find more offensive.

If there was some basis in fact for the use of the middle finger alone, which somebody posted could be connected to Roman times, I haven't heard anything or found any links to the research. When I do, I will learn not to be offended by the one finger salute.

Also, with the 'f' word associated with the middle finger, it implies a sexual tone to the use of the finger where the middle finger is seen to represent a phallice (unsure of the spelling) of a certain anatomical part of a man. Hence, could be the reason it offends me. In other words, every time, I see somebody salute with that one finger they are making a sexual gesture. My husband has never used either salute and sees the same image with the one finger as I do, but like me, doesn't mind the two-finger salute.

posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 04:01 PM
reply to post by whitesatan

wow that is very interesting ive never heard that before i dont know if i believe it yet though but ill look in to it

posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 04:04 PM

Originally posted by hsur2112
Hmmmm, well, I'm kind of sad, yet intruiged. I thought I started it in the 80's.

I knew for sure it was pre-80's, becasue I got my butt wooped for throwing it at another boy in the 70's! lol

posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 04:14 PM
reply to post by whitesatan

Now this is education worth acquiring. Such stimulating knowledge!

posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 05:14 PM
Well... I had no idea! It makes sense too! History really is crazy.

posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 05:55 PM
Interesting to know and potential good convo starter. I always figured it was from more of our modern times.

posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 11:17 PM
Now why don't they teach stuff like this in schools? On the internet I learn something interesting every day.

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