Subject: The History of the Middle Finger
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 incapableof 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 labiodentals fricative F’,
and thus the words often used in conjunction with the
It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the
longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as “giving the
And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing!