The bird

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 6 04:18:18 UTC 2010

A propos of nothing, I was ca.35 before I ever heard the phrase, "flip
someone the bird." After asking my interlocutor what she meant, I was
surprised to discover that it meant the same as "slip someone the



On Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 1:52 AM, Peter McGraw
<mrlanguageperson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Peter McGraw <mrlanguageperson at VERIZON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: The bird
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "Slip" is=A0exactly what it says.=A0 The document uses the same two styles =
> of the letter s that are found in the U.S. constitution.=A0 A contemporary =
> reader of the document would not have confused this word with "flip."=0A=0A=
> Peter McGraw=0A=0A=0A=0A=0A________________________________=0AFrom: Dan Gon=
> charoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>=0ATo: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU=0ASent: Thu, Marc=
> h 4, 2010 7:16:39 PM=0ASubject: Re: The bird=0A=0A---------------------- In=
> formation from the mail header -----------------------=0ASender:=A0 =A0 =A0=
>  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>=0APoster:=A0 =A0 =A0 Dan=
>  Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>=0ASubject:=A0 =A0 =A0 Re: The bird=0A-----=
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> =0A=0AI read this as "slip the bird", as in "let slip the bird which he had=
>  in=0Ahis hand". But then, what do I know?=0A=0ADanG=0A=0AOn 3/4/2010 9:23 =
> PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:=0A> ---------------------- Information from the =
> mail header -----------------------=0A> Sender:=A0 =A0 =A0 American Dialect=
>  Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>=0A> Poster:=A0 =A0 =A0 Victor Steinbok<aar=
> dvark66 at GMAIL.COM>=0A> Subject:=A0 =A0 =A0 Re: The bird=0A> ---------------=
> ----------------------------------------------------------------=0A>=0A> I =
> have no doubt that the meaning in the following is quite literal, but=0A> i=
> t is still interesting because it is the only one of its kind that I=0A> fo=
> und pre-1900=0A>=0A>>=0A> For this to have been a e=
> uphemism, there would have to have been a=0A> breakdown in communication, a=
> t some point, for Harris (the translator)=0A> means it quite literally.=0A>=
> =0A>=A0 =A0 =A0 VS-)=0A>=0A> On 3/4/2010 7:22 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:=
> =0A>=0A>> The photo in question appeared in 1996 in Geoffrey C. Ward's _Bas=
> eball_,=0A>> written to accompany Ken Burns's TV series.=0A>>=0A>> As HDAS =
> notes, _Funk&=A0 Wagnall's Standard Dictionary_ of 1890-93 amazingly=0A>> i=
> ncludes the phrase "give someone the finger," somewhat lamely defined, and=
> =0A>> with no apparent suggestion of obscenity.=0A>>=0A>> My=A0 SWAG is tha=
> t the gesture became widespread/ familiar to the "educated"=0A>> in the 188=
> 0s, which seems to imply a long underground existence.=0A>>=0A>> Maybe it w=
> as popularized during the Civil War.=0A>>=0A>> I've never seen any document=
> ation earlier than the photo.=A0 In the light=0A>> of the gesture's apparen=
> t existence in Ancient Rome, one can only guess that=0A>> it may have been =
> introduced into modern American culture by (very=0A>> conservative) Italian=
>  immigrants.=A0 Another SWAG, of course.=0A>>=0A>> JL=0A>>=0A>> On Thu, Mar=
>  4, 2010 at 5:08 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC<=0A>> Bill.Mullins at>=
> =A0 wrote:=0A>>=0A>>=0A>>=0A> ---------------------------------------------=
> ---------------=0A> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandiale=
> -----=0AThe American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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