Goose/The Finger

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Tue Jan 22 13:41:56 UTC 2002

Interesting that Partridge is cited for etymology. Remember him? He's
the guy who said tochas meant testicles (sic) and was derived from
the tock part of tick-tock, since the items in question reminded him
of a swinging pendulum.

I've been a little suspicious of his etymologies (especially since he
apparently has no Hebrew and very little sense of the nether parts of
his own anatomy).


>>.... 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

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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