ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Origin of the Middle Finger Gesture

Updated on August 12, 2017
Tree Frog apparently having "one of those" days
Tree Frog apparently having "one of those" days

We've all done it, some more than others I'll admit. Everyone on the planet, no matter where they are from, understands what it means. Apparently, even frogs do it. The Middle Finger. While staring down the barrel of one of these just the other day, I had to stop and ponder the timeless questions, "Where did the Middle Finger come from?", "How did it come into existence and why"?

And so, I decided to write an article about my findings.

Proof that this gesture existed in ancient times
Proof that this gesture existed in ancient times

Grecian Roots

According to anthropologists, this gesture has been around for more than 2000 years. In ancient Greece, the first written record of this gesture tells a tale of a playwright Aristophanes who made a crude joke by mixing up the middle finger with his penis. Aristophanes was very popular back in his day and so from then on, in popular Greece culture the middle finger salute was known as a nasty phallic insult, and was not taken lightly.

Roman Roots

Apparently the Romans adopted this gesture from the Greeks along with everything else, in fact, the Roman emperor Caligula, who was known for perversely shocking his citizens, used to make them kiss his middle finger instead of his hand! One of his subjects, Cassius, who was quite often belittled for being too effeminate, was so fed up with the insult that he assassinated Caligula over it.


Latin Origin

In Latin, the middle finger was the "digitus impudicus", (and I'm most certainly going to use that phrase the next time someone gives me the salute)..The phrase means "shameless or indecent finger".

Modern Times

During the Middle Ages the gesture was still around of course, (else how would it be in use today?), but was regarded as so offensive the church forbid its use, and so had to remain 'underground' and was used only by unscrupulous characters.

It is believed that this gesture made it's way to America by way of Italian Immigrants, and it's popularity increased with the rise of photography and automobiles. Makes sense right? In both scenarios you can't be heard...but you (and your salute) can be seen...

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • howlermunkey profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Boettner 

      14 months ago from Tampa, FL

      Hi Mary,

      Two finger salute ey? Wonder what the reasoning behind that one is? I'mm looking that one up next...Thanks for stopping by!

      Hi Larry,

      Crazy right? One of those things that has been around forever. In this case thousands of years. Thanks for the feedback!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      14 months ago from Oklahoma

      Never even thought to question its origin. Wonderful idea for an article. I love tidbits like this.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      14 months ago from Brazil

      Well, now I know!

      When I lived in the UK I always thought it odd that they used a two-finger salute.

      Having to kiss someone's middle finger is even worse than being flipped off, which can be brushed off as the flipper just being a jerk.

      I sure hope this comes up on a trivia question somewhere so I can share the knowledge.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)