Name of each finger

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rafaelgan, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. rafaelgan Senior Member

    What was the name of each finger?
  2. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    The thumb
    the index finger (next to the thumb)
    the middle finger (in the middle)
    the ring finger (though this is customarily used for the left hand only)
    the "little finger" or the "pinkie" (the smallest and last finger)
  3. xrayspex

    xrayspex Senior Member

    Florida USA
    USA English (southern)
    Thumb, index, middle, ring, little.
  4. tomatico

    tomatico Senior Member

    Luanda, Angola
    English, US
    In common US English, they are:
    the pinky (sort of funny name-I don't know where it comes from)
    the ring finger (obvious?)
    the middle finger (sometimes called the 'birdy finger' because of its unusual power to 'shoot birdies')
    the index finger (often 'pointer' for children), and the thumb.

    In medical terms they are numbered 1-5 (thumb is number 1).
  5. Canoas New Member

    Are you sure about the birdy finger? In my understanding it must be the pointing and not for shooting, but for inviting birdies to step on. Also because i don't think it would be confortable to pull a trigger with the middle finger, even if i don't use guns.
  6. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Perhaps tomatico is referring to the fact that the middle finger is used for "flipping the bird," a gesture that means, among other things, "fuck off."
  7. Canoas New Member

    Oh yes, i thought about that pretty obvious meaning, Mr Pedant, still i don't she relation with shooting.
  8. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "Shooting" (here) is another way of saying "flipping." It's not to be taken literally. E.g., "Joe shot several birdies at the cops and almost got us arrested."
  9. Canoas New Member

    Aha... so what does that mean?
    Shooting several birdies?! Of course the cops would arrest Joe! ha!

    We are getting farther from the point. I wonder if its real this thing of calling middle finger the birdie one...
  10. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Tomatico did use the word "sometimes" before that description, suggesting it may not be in common or widespread use:D
  11. Canoas New Member

    Thank you Julian for reminding me, still, i'd like to deepen into English and i'm doubting about these "sometimes". It seems i'll have to forget about the whole thing.
  12. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    'Shooting the birdie' in this context means the same as 'flipping the birdie'. They both refer to raising the middle finger in a rude gesture. They have nothing to do with actual birds, and they are in very common usage (in this context). I don't know about America, but in the UK the middle finger is called 'the Finger'. The latter wouldn't be used outside the context of making the gesture, but its perfectly common within said context.
  13. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    In grammar school (40s, Brooklyn) we sang a little tune, with appropriate gestures, about the fingers. One verse started "where is tall-man (the middle finger)?" The boys would snigger mightily as we all "flipped the bird" at Teacher.
  14. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    I have never heard a British person use birdie or pinkie to describe fingers. I wouldn't say either.
  15. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    'Pinkie' is very common in Northern England and Scotland.
  16. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    I've never heard "birdy/ie" as a name for the middle finger. When making the gesture, the hand looks like a bird in flight.
    The word "pink" has an interesting history. It originated with a Dutch word meaning "small" so the pinkie finger for the little finger is not thought to be related to the color (the color name is from the flower "pink" (Dianthus) as is the "pinking" in "pinking shears"). Etymonline blames "pinkie" on the Scots.
  17. dharasty Senior Member

    American English
    In AE:

    "Pinky" is very common for the little finger.

    I agree with comment that the middle finger is not, itself, called "the bird" or "the birdie". Rather, the gesture of raising the middle finger at someone/something is considered a vulgar gesture, and is called "flipping the bird/birdie" or "shooting the bird/birdie".

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