Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 09:16:32 -0500
From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM
Subject: Re: "the bird"
There's an excellent article discussing both of these issues
in the current (February) issue of GQ, of all things. I
My daughter inquires about the origin of
1. the American rude gesture known as "flipping the bird", which
is not really within the domain of this list, and
2. its name, which is.
The original sense of _bird_ goes back to 1825 and meant 'the booing
or hissing of a player or performance'. Later senses, attested by
the 1920s, are 'a raspberry; Bronx cheer', and 'ridicule, mockery,
or rejection in any form'. The first evidence I know of that
unquestionably attests the sense 'extended middle finger as rude
gesture' is only in 1966.
Random House Reference
jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]panix.com