Names For Our Rudest Finger (A.K.A. Flipping the Bird)
Today you’ll learn the names for our rudest middle finger, and about a podcast turned TV show starring Julia Roberts.
Click here for more Honestly English lessons!
Remember to check out the blog this week, and learn about the racist origin of 3 common English phrases.
Every culture has their own way of saying ‘fuck you’ or ‘fuck off’ through gestures, and showing someone the middle finger is ours. Some would translate this gesture as ‘up yours’, but most people mean it as a ‘fuck you’.
‘Up yours’, which is slightly nicer way to say ‘stick it up your ass’, is still a vulgar term. It could usually be used in exactly the same situations as those in which you’d say ‘fuck you’, but it’s not really used by people of my generation and younger. source
The ‘f’ word, though, will always be used, by everybody!
This topic came to mind because a friend of my son’s, also 7 years old, is a bit fascinated with this gesture, which of course is hilarious.
Names for our middle finger gesture:
Flip (someone) off
Give (someone) the (middle) finger
Flip/Give (someone) the bird (the action is also called ‘flipping the bird’)
This gesture actually dates back to Ancient Greece, and was also used in Ancient Rome. source
At first, the middle finger was a symbol of a penis, and it developed into an insult very quickly.
Now, for the ‘bird’ part.
For about the last 7 centuries, birds have been associated with taunting, such as when audiences would hiss like geese when displeased in England. In the 1860’s, people would say ‘give the big bird’, which meant to hiss like a goose at actors you were unhappy with.
So, in the 1960’s, this symbolism of the middle finger combined with the bird phrase, and ‘flip/give someone the bird’ entered our slang vernacular. source
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When do we give someone the finger?
Most often, honestly, while driving. If someone cuts you off in traffic, or really does anything that impairs your freedom of driving movement, you could give them the bird.
We also do this behind someone’s back, as it’s non-verbal, and we can say ‘fuck you’ without the person knowing it.
To be honest, I never flip people off! I just never get angry enough, even while driving. I don’t really care! I can’t remember the last time I gave someone the finger.
People have flipped me off though! It happened just last week when I was backing out of a gas station. There was another woman exiting, and she got a bit irate with my slow maneuvering.
I just laughed- cracked up, actually. James was with me and also thought it was pretty funny.
Comment on this video you guys!
I would love to know the non-verbal ways people say ‘f you’ in your cultures! Also tell us if you’ve used this gesture recently, or if you’ve been on the receiving end, like me.
Pop Culture R&R
First, Homecoming was an incredible podcast which I totally binged. It’s fiction, and it stars Catherine Keener, who also stars in the movie recommended on my blog this week, and David Schwimmer (yes, who played Ross on Friends.)
Now, it’s a show on Amazon and it stars Julia Roberts!
The story involves a rehabilitation center for soldiers, and evolves into a government/corporate conspiracy.
You can totally do both, the podcast and the show, as the story does diverge after a few episodes of the show.
Here’s the trailer for the Amazon series: