Fact or Fiction??

The History of the Middle Finger
Well now…here’s something that I never knew before. and now that I do I feel compelled to share 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 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.’


12 comments on “Fact or Fiction??

  1. Hahahaha! Gotta love it!


  2. Are we a civilization of words, or are we not? Makes one wonder how many other such sayings have as rich a history as this one. Thanks for the fascinating bit of trivia. I won’t forget this one! :^)


  3. *chuckle* – What a great and cool blog post!! THAT’S how I love history. LOL
    Thanks for sharing!!


  4. I highly doubt this is how it came about but it sure is funny 🙂


  5. Great job Liz!! LOL I’ve actually heard of the loss of the middle finger, but I’d never heard of the “pluck yew” phrase that went with it! hahaha I had to share this one with my Facebook friends so they could enjoy a chuckle too.


    • Glad you got a chuckle, I thought it was pretty good too. It came via an e-mail to me, so now I have to see if it is an urban myth. What is that website you can go on to find out answers like this?


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