From Etymonline

"Showing the fig" was a vulgar gesture made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, itself symbolic of a vagina (sykon also meant "vulva").

What does "fig" mean in "showing the fig"? I looked up the dictionaries, which say either a kind of fruit or nothing, which doesn't fit the context.

  • It means the edible fruit ... why do you reject this meaning? – user24964 Oct 31 '13 at 17:25
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    How is the fruit related to the vulgar gesture? – Tim Oct 31 '13 at 17:27
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    @J.R.: What does a fig looks like? How does it look like vagina? – Tim Oct 31 '13 at 18:08
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    Figs? Whole, or split? Dried, or off the tree? I suppose the hand gesture does resemble these... – J.R. Oct 31 '13 at 18:10
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    @TheMathemagician: Please tell me directly. A split fig resembles vagina, but the gesture doesn't look like a vagina, does it? The gesture doesn't look like a whole or split fig, does it? – Tim Oct 31 '13 at 18:30

All you need to do is parse the excerpt from etymonline, and use your imagination:

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