An article in yesterday’s Der Spiegel about a candidate (Peer Steinbruecks) for Chancellor in Germany who used his “middle finger” to respond to a question about his many rowdy nicknames. It has caused a bit of a row in the press after it appeared on the cover of a major magazine. In the article the authors use “Mittelfinger” but “Stinkefinger” in the headline! Pretty coarse in my hearing.
OED has as oldest citation, 1903 and notes that it is vulgar and now rare and obsolete. I don’t remember hearing it since I was in High School, though I see that Limp Bizkit has a song by that name, though the compound seems to be separated and the meaning is more literal than just naming a gesture.
Is it current? And, perhaps unanswerable, which came first, the German or English version of this word? Not the gesture as that goes back into antiquity digitus impudicus, but the actual word.
As an aside, I’m quite sure our press would never use “Stinkfinger” to describe the gesture. Too rude.