The History of the Middle Finger Salute

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 English longbow 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 labiodentals 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.”

And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing!

-Dave 

(h/t: my brother)

14 responses to “The History of the Middle Finger Salute

  1. I learn something new everyday! lol.

  2. Works for me!

  3. Interesting that some commentator [if I could remember where I read it, I would post the link!], said after the Russian newscaster gave the jeja the “pluck yew,” that in Russian, the middle finger is a sign of respect and a wish for wealth and happiness. Umm hmm. Sure it is.

  4. I like it because it’s the arrogant French getting what they deserve. :-)

    -Dave

  5. The French were probably waving the white flag while the Englidh soldiers mocked them…

    • DCG,

      Yeah, those little white flags are probably standard issue in the French army.

      LOL – That along with rifles that have never been fired and only dropped once. :-)

      -Dave

  6. obelus80@gmail.com

    What a load of nonsense and misinformation. The French feared the English long bow. The French King vowed that the index and second finger (used in drawing the bow string back) would be cut off the defeated English after the battle of Agincourt. The French lost… the French retreating were given the two finger salute. Winston Churchill gave the palm salute (palm forward) as a V for victory. The index and second finger extended with the back of the hand facing the recipient is an insult and means ‘fuck you’ …

  7. Sorry Dave….I heard it as having an English origin as well, but a slightly different tale.

    During about the time of Jack the Ripper, the Bobbies would arrest prostitutes and shorten “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” to “F.U.C.K.” for short.

  8. Blonde Gator – the F.U.C.K idea is complete rubbish. For a start, the word “fuck” has been around for centuries and is of Germanic origin. The idea of acronyms is a relatively recent idea, and there is absolutely no truth in the idea that “fuck” stands for anything. Just look at the same word in German: “fick” from the verb “ficken”. It doesn’t stand for anything, and it probably comes from a word meaning to thrust.

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