Where Does the Middle Finger Sign Come From? Origin and Meaning of the Middle Finger

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21 September 2021

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middle finger sign Contrary to popular belief, it has been used by humanity since ancient times. The middle finger sign, which has both negative and positive meanings, has preserved its negative meaning until today. It is offensive to show the middle finger, especially in those who are not familiar with western culture. Since this sign is a product of Roman culture, it was also very popular on the coasts of our country. There are also many untrue myths about the middle finger sign. In this content, Where does the middle finger sign come from? We take a closer look in the light of historical information.


How did the middle finger sign come about?

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The emergence of the middle finger sign dates back to BC. This sign, which came to the United States in the late 1800s and appeared frequently in popular culture, was mostly used in a negative sense. First, when we look at the oldest known trace of the middle finger sign, we see it. Ancient Greece turns out. Middle finger sign in Ancient Greece catapygon was called. However, the people did not show this sign to each other at that time. The middle finger mostly appeared in comedies written in Ancient Greece.



Written by Aristophanes in 423 BC, The Clouds is one of the first comedies with the middle finger sign. Philosopher in the game Socrates The middle finger appears when the character is giving an oral exam to a student. Socrates asks Strepsiades for poetic measures. Strepsiades says he knows the dactyl size very well and shows Socrates his middle finger. Dactyl, on the other hand, means finger in ancient Greek and is the name of a poetic measure consisting of 1 long and two short sentences. The real importance of the dactyl measure appears in medieval Latin texts. Because this size resembles a penis due to its appearance and is used offensively.

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One of the most famous users of the middle finger sign in Ancient Greece Diogenes is happening. This famous thinker, also known as Diogenes of Sinop and said to have lived in a large barrel, is one of the names who frequently uses his middle finger. In fact, Diogenes did not hesitate to show his middle finger even to the famous politician of the time, Dimosthenis.


Symbolism of the middle finger sign:

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We mentioned that the size of the Dactyl resembles a penis. That alone tells us a lot about the symbolism of the middle finger sign. In these times before Christ middle finger sign It appears as a phallus, a sign of a penis. Since the longest finger we have is the middle finger, the phallus, the depiction of masculine power, is shown with this finger. The index and ring fingers next to the middle finger represent the testicles. So in summary, the middle finger appears in Ancient Greece as one of the first symbolic insults related to the masculine language. With the middle finger, you basically threaten the other person with your masculinity.


Middle finger sign and Ancient Rome:

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ancient rome The middle finger sign was used by both the Romans and the northern tribes. If we look at the lands where Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire spread, we can see that this sign is actually synonymous with our geography. Because it is possible to come across this sign in almost all of the communities that have a coast on the Mediterranean. But in the first century AD, the middle finger was also a gesture against the evil eye.

The middle finger was used by many communities to ward off the “evil eye”. At the same time, the myth of the middle finger therefore goes hand in hand with the myth of the evil eye bead. Latin name for the middle finger sign used by the Romans digitus impudicus passes as. In Roman works published in the first century AD, the middle finger was mostly used by fake healers as part of their rituals.



However, the poet, who was a master of dark humor and criticism, also lived in the same period. Martial used the middle finger sign in its original meaning. Even Martial,” If anyone calls you homosexual, show them your middle finger. He also wrote the lyrics. The Roman historian Tacitus, who also lived in this period, mentions the middle finger in his writings. He even recorded that German tribes fighting with Roman soldiers used the middle finger sign.


How did the middle finger sign spread around the world?

Postmodern heykelWe can say that one of the most obvious reasons why the middle finger sign is so famous around the world is Ancient Greece and the lands ruled by the Roman Empire. But if we look ideologically and etymologically, it is possible that the middle finger sign appeared spontaneously in many primitive tribes. Because almost all social communities in the world were communicating based on sign language in the early period. Considering that the phallus, that is, the penis, also represents power in these communities, the phallus depiction can best be made with the middle finger, in a way of communication based on the symbolism we have established using the hands.



middle finger sign The Byzantine Empire spread over wider geographies. Because a Byzantine writer named Suidas writes the biggest linguistic encyclopedia of his time. in water In this work, which is called the meaning and origin of 30 thousand Greek words. Another name that plays a role in the spread of the middle finger around the world. Erasmus is happening. Erasmus, one of the greatest academics in history, brought together Greek and Latin proverbs. Adagia He includes the middle finger sign in his collection.


Journey of the middle finger sign to the USA:

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Linguist Jesse Sheidlower has done quite a bit of research into the US origins of the middle finger sign. In the light of these researches, anthropologist Desmond Morris made a claim. Allegedly, the middle finger sign was probably brought to the United States by Italian immigrants. The first photograph in which the middle finger is seen in the USA is a at the baseball game has been taken. Old Hoss Radbourn, the Shooter on the Boston Beaneaters team, uses the sign. In 1886, Radbourn photographed him showing the middle finger to the players of the opposing New York Giants.


Misunderstood myth about the middle finger sign:

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A myth has been floating around the internet lately about the middle finger sign. In fact, this myth, which is also about the finger, has been wrongly attributed to the middle finger etymology. This middle finger myth, which appears on almost all content sites, does not reflect the truth. So what is this middle finger myth? According to this myth, which is included in many content sites on social media, the middle finger sign was created in 1415. by the British has emerged.



Allegedly, during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England, English archers were using it against their enemies as an insult, as English archers shot the arrow with their middle finger and the French cut off the middle fingers of British prisoners. In fact, these archers played a major role in winning the Battle of Agincourt.

Yes, English longbow archers are known to have played a large part in the Battle of Agincourt. But as we mentioned in our Content, the middle finger has nothing to do with British archers or the Hundred Years’ War. During these battles, British archers used their index and middle fingers to stretch their long bows. For this reason, British archers used a V-shaped sign with two fingers pointing, similar to today’s peace sign. The French, on the other hand, would cut off these two fingers of the English archers they captured.


What does the middle finger sign mean today?

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Today, the middle finger sign, while still quite offensive, is more protest to a symbol evolved correctly. Especially the artists who made protest works adopted the middle finger sign. In this way, the sign became a protest movement, more like a peace sign than a masculine insult. Today, we come across the middle finger sign in countless movies, TV shows, music videos, and works of art. We also use the middle finger sign frequently in our daily life. In fact, about women’s use of this sign, Freud probably said “ penis envy ” and he would have a lot to say in the context of the subconscious. But under Freud, the middle finger sign was not as popular in Europe as it is today.

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