What is the origin/meaning of the phrase "flipping the bird"?
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Flipping seems pretty straightforward, so the real question here is, where did "the bird" come from?
Here's one account:
Source: Online Etymology Dictionary
The earliest use in print I found of the exact phrase "flip the bird" or "flipped the bird" or "flipping the bird" is from a 1967 Broadside (Volume 6, Issues 17-26).
The gesture is much older. Flipping the Bird: The Origins of Everyone's Favorite Middle Finger Gesture tells us:
Here's a 20th century translation of The Clouds:
It came from an English battle between the French over a Cliffside town. English and archers, the French saw the need to take out the archers middle finger so they could not train another generation of archers. The English subsequently won the war, and walked around the town with their middle finger still intact. They would show the Frenchman their middle finger and proclaim I can still flip the bird, a reference to an arrow. String on the bow, known as a yew, is also how we have flipping the bird and plucking the yew coming together as flipping the bird meaning fuck you
If you look up the definition of fillip you will see that it is "a blow or gesture made by the sudden forcible straightening of a finger curled up against the thumb". This is where flip came from; where "the Bird" derived from I have no idea! But fillip pronounced flip is obvious.
protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 16:09
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