Indian sign (1895, 1897)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Apr 12 20:26:45 UTC 2005

Both signs were used as you say, Barbara,.  Photos offered an excellent opportunity.  If there was a distinction between the two gestures, I was too unworldly to know about it. They were more often seen than discussed.

The Bush family received some extra international attention at the Inauguration for flashing the University of Texas "hook 'em horns" sign, which is indistinguishable from the "evil eye" sign, An enlightening report is here :


Barbara Need <nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Barbara Need
Subject: Re: Indian sign (1895, 1897)

Isn't this (what I call bunny ears), the first and second fingers
behind the head of someone (particularly in photos!).


>We called this sign "donkey ears" in the '50s. It was used to make
>other kids look ridiculous. I never heard it called anything else or
>that it had any hoodoo power.
> >----------
>I wonder if anyone else on the list can confirm a hazy memory I have of
>one use of what may be this sign. Fist closed, fore- & little fingers
>extended, hand held at the back of the head to suggest "Indian" headdress.
>I think it was called the "Indian sign." (It is basically the same as the
>old European sign for cuckold,except for the position.) School-aged kids
>(in Lincoln NE in the '30s &'40s) used this as a way of saying "bullshit"
>without utterance. It might also have had other negative meanings.
>A. Murie

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