Skip to main content

The History of the Middle Finger & "Fuck You"


This may be the most often used word in the English language, probably after the word "the". But how many of us know the origin of the words "fuck you". Culture and history are intertwined and can explain how things are the way they are today. Teenagers reading this can share the origin of "fuck you" with their parents the next time they get reprimanded for using the phrase - once you can explain the history to your parents, its not so bad. Somehow I think the story is true because I have read and heard many times before about 'giving him the bird' - which I thought was silly although that had overt nasty overtones. Now it all makes sense.

The History of the Middle Finger & "Fuck You"

Well, now......here’s something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified. Isn't history more fun when you know something about it?

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 labio-dentals 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.'




Comments

nick said…
Hmmm..Interesting but I always thought that "Fuck" is derive from "Fornication Under Consent of King" in middle ages Scotland during the time of 'braveheart"... Maybe it's a different version...
Piqued said…
from:
http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl-pluck-yew.htm


Comments: Pay no attention to the pseudo-academic bluster about pheasant pluckers, labiodental fricatives and the English longbow; this is a clever and amusing spoof, not to be taken seriously.

Jesse Sheidlower, author of "The F-Word" (Random House: 1999), says the "totally ludicrous" tale erroneously conflates the etymology of the word fuck with an older bit of folklore, itself questionable, purporting to trace the origin of the European "two-finger salute" (roughly analagous to "flipping the bird" in America) back to the taunts of British archers against the French during the Hundred Years' War.

Etymologists say fuck found its way into the English language from Dutch or Low German during the 14th century and made its first written appearance around 1500. The word pluck, on the other hand, is of Latin derivation and there is no known linguistic connection between the two English words. It's doubtful the expression "Pluck yew" was ever uttered before 1996, when this apocryphal story first went into circulation online.

The middle-finger gesture, which has apparently had phallic connotations in every culture in which it has been used, is much older. We know it dates back to ancient Greece, at least, where it was referenced in "The Clouds," a play written by Aristophanes in 423 B.C. It was also well known to the Romans, who referred to it variously as digitus infamis ("infamous finger") and digitus impudicus ("indecent finger"). In all likelihood its origins were prehistoric.
lsb said…
a different version: ancient England or France, fornication needed sovereign consent so married couple was given a plague and when they dont want to be disturbed hanged on the door.

fornication under consent of King (fuck.
Wei Li said…
Isb,
"married couple was given a plague"
that had me stoned for a moment :-o
would it be that u meant plaque or some other similarly spelt word?
lsb said…
Wei Li, Plate. tks
laurence said…
FUCK also stands for 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" - something to do with underage sex?
Mark Schon said…
Fornication refers to sex outside of marriage. Why would a married couple want permission from the king to have sex out of wedlock? In addition, if the sovereign had to give permission for a married couple to begin having sex, that sovereign wouldn't have time to do anything else. Nonetheless, I am sure that the neighbors had a laugh when they saw plaques on the doors in the neighborhood!
Mark Schon said…
Fornication refers to sex outside of marriage. Why would a married couple want permission from the king to have sex out of wedlock? In addition, if the sovereign had to give permission for a married couple to begin having sex, that sovereign wouldn't have time to do anything else. Nonetheless, I am sure that the neighbors had a laugh when they saw plaques on the doors in the neighborhood!
Some Guy said…
Wow... This post and the comment succeeding it are ludicrous!!! "F*ck" is a Germanic word (you know, 'cause English is Germanic), "F*ck you" means "fuck yourself" and the middle finger references a penis thrusting into a persons arse; middle finger means "up yours" but I guess it's kind of related to "f*ck you"

Popular posts from this blog

My Master, A National Treasure

REPOST:  Its been more than two years since I posted on my sifu. This is probably the most significant posting I had done thus far that does not involve business or politics. My circle of close friends and business colleagues have benefited significantly from his treatment.


My Master, Dr. Law Chin Han (from my iPhone)

Where shall I start? OK, just based on real life experiences of those who are close to me. The entire Tong family (Bukit Kiara Properties) absolutely swear that he is the master of masters when it comes to acupuncture (and dentistry as well). To me, you can probably find many great dentists, but to find a real Master in acupuncture, thats a whole different ballgame.


I am not big aficionado of Chinese medicine or acupuncture initially. I guess you have to go through the whole shebang to appreciate the real life changing effects from a master.


My business partner and very close friend went to him after 15 years of persistent gout problem, he will get his heavy attacks at least…

PUC - An Assessment

PUC has tried to reinvent itself following the untimely passing of its founder last year. His younger brother, who was highly successful in his own right, was running Pictureworks in a number of countries in Asia.

The Shares Price Rise & Possible Catalysts

Share price has broken its all time high comfortably. The rise has been steady and not at all volatile, accompanied by steady volume, which would indicate longer term investors and some funds already accumulating nd not selling back to the market.


Potential Catalyst #1

The just launched Presto app. Tried it and went to the briefing. Its a game changer for PUC for sure. They have already indicated that the e-wallet will be launched only in 1Q2018. Now what is Presto, why Presto. Its very much like Lazada or eBay or Alibaba. Lazada is a platform for retailers to sell, full stop. eBay is more for the personal one man operations. Alibaba is more for wholesalers and distributors.

Presto links retailers/f&b/services originators with en…

How Long Will The Bull Lasts For Malaysia

Are we in a bull run? Of course we are. Not to labour the point but I highlighted the start of the bull run back in January this year... and got a lot of naysayers but never mind:






























p/s: needless to say, this is Jing Tian ... beautiful face and a certain kind of freshness in her looks and acting career thus far



http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.my/2016/12/bank-negara-may-have-switched-on-bull.html


I would like to extend my prediction that the bull run for Bursa stocks should continue to run well till the end of the year. What we are seeing for the past 3 weeks was a general lull where volume suddenly shrunk but the general trend is still intact. My reasons for saying so:

a) the overall equity markets globally will be supported by a benign recovery complemented by a timid approach to raising rates by most central banks

b) thanks to a drastic bear run for most commodities, and to a lesser extent some oil & gas players, the undertone for "cost of materials" have been weak and has pr…