Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 09:16:32 -0500 From: Jesse T Sheidlower 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 recommend it. > 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. Jesse Sheidlower Random House Reference