The Write Room Cafe

The Write Room Cafe
Kevin Lynn Helmick

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pluck You, the history of the middle finger, a guest blog and wisdom by Johnny A

The History of the Middle Finger
Well,'s something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified.
Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English s...oldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as 'plucking the yew' (or 'pluck yew').
Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and they began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as 'giving the bird.'

And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.


  1. John Charles Arthur has been a good freind of mine for over thirty years. That bullshit wisdom of his has made me smile as much as anybody I know. As fine a goodtime charlie as you'll ever find, and one helluva car salesman.

  2. That's a great story. Loved it! I've loved the Battle of Agincourt since I was a kid and first saw Olivier's `Henry V'. The use of the longbow in that battle was brilliant! Love hearing `the other side of the story' here. Thanks!