The History of the Middle Finger

mfWell, now……here’s something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to pass it on to you intelligent readers in the hope that you, too, will feel edified.

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 they 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.

Isn’t history more fun when you know something about it?

6 Responses to “The History of the Middle Finger”

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  1. Rosey says:

    ‘And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.’
    Betcha’ can’t say that ten times fast w/o saying a bad word. 🙂

  2. Abelle │ The Wows! and Oops! of Life says:

    And the rest is history . . . . . ;o)

  3. Comedy Plus says:

    Twitter ID:

    Bwahahahahahahaha. I learn something every single day.

    Have a fabulous day Steve. 🙂

  4. Agent 54 says:

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    Robert Wohl first explained that to me.

    Pluck Yew and have a great day.

  5. Joyce says:

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    I actually knew that story, but it is so fun that I had to read it again.