Saluting The French

The History Of The Middle Finger
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

ince ‘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!

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