Goose/The Finger

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Jan 22 13:14:29 UTC 2002

>.... What bird? Why bird at all?

"Give [someone] the bird" = "make a sound or gesture of derision toward
[someone]". Apparently the original "bird" (also "big bird", "goose")
(early 19th C. or earlier) was a goose-hiss (used in the theater), later
(late 19th or early 20th C.) the "bird" was a raspberry or Bronx cheer, and
finally (ca. 1966) the word was applied to a middle-finger 'salute'. At
least this is my impression from a glance at HDAS, Partridge,
Cassell/Green, etc.

-- Doug Wilson

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