The finger

From Academic Kids

This article is about the vulgar gesture. For information on mammalian prehensile digits, see finger.
Missing image
The Middle Finger gesture (possibly offensive)

The finger, known variously as the one-finger salute, the highway salute, flipping (someone) off, flipping the bird or the Trudeau salute (in Canada). It is a hand gesture made by extending the middle finger of the hand while bending the other fingers at the second knuckle. It has an offensive meaning in some cultures, notably North America. The meaning is essentially "fuck you" or "go fuck yourself."


The origins of this gesture are highly speculative. It is identified as the digitus impudicus ("impudent finger") in Ancient Roman writings. It was defined there as a gesture intended to insult another. It has been noted that the gesture resembles an erect penis. Ancient Romans considered an image of an erect phallus as a talisman against evil spells. As a consequence, displaying this gesture to another may not have been a pseudo-sexual insult but rather an insulting statement along the lines of – "I'm going to protect myself against your witchcraft, before you even start."

In Canada, showing the middle finger is sometimes called the Trudeau salute after Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau because of a famous photo of him giving the finger to protesters. He has also used the gesture in the House of Commons.

In some subcultures in the USA it is known as the "one fingered victory salute" after this video (, which apparently shows President George W Bush flipping the finger in a "live mike" incident. The video has not been widely viewed though, due the lack of media attention it received on being leaked a few days before the 2004 election.

A popular, but apocryphal, story derives it from the gestures of English archers at Agincourt. The myth claims that the French cut off fingers from archers, and that the 'finger' was a sign of defiance by those who retained their fingers. The same story also claims that 'fuck you' is a corruption of 'pluck yew' since bows were made of yew, or the phrase "I can still pluck you!". While it has been debunked many times, this story still crops up.


The gesture is generally considered offensive in the United States, where the FCC has banned it from broadcast television. As a result the gesture is often censored, and airbrushed out or replaced with large-pixel blocks. This gesture occurs frequently on television shows like The Jerry Springer Show or on music videos shown on MTV or formerly VH1. A popular MTV show, Pimp My Ride featured rapper, Xzibit, taking a car with a pair of Mickey Mouse gloves with four fingers including the thumb. As Xzibit drives the car, he wears the gloves and flips off the camera. Despite the technicality, it is still censored.

Canada and most of Europe have a more liberal stance, and modest to heavy use of the gesture is tolerated. In Asia, notably in Hong Kong or Singapore whose cultures are westernized, the gesture is also a taboo. In Germany, showing it to an individual can be considered as an insult and is punishable with a fine of up to a month's income. Beyond the offensive nature of the gesture, Chinese Sign Language used by the deaf of China employ this handshape to represent the first born male or number one son, a position of status in traditional Chinese culture.

In some Mediterranean countries, and much of Asia, it is permissible to use the middle finger to point to something (on a written page for example) and Western cultures often do recognize the use of the middle finger to point to things. However, in North America it is considered more polite to use the forefinger to point to something.

In 1968, captured crewmembers of the USS Pueblo used a discreet version of the finger as a covert signal of defiance in propaganda photos taken by their North Korean captors.[1] (

External link

nl:Middelvinger zh:比中指


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