Stinkefinger (English loan word???)
Posted: 14 September 2013 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]
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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.

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Posted: 14 September 2013 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I honestly can’t remember if I’ve heard stinkfinger used to refer to the gesture. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it—probably high school as well.

But Green’s Dictionary of Slang antedates it:

c.1864 in T.P. Lowry Stories the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell (1994) ) 37: He has had a serious time of it. I don’t think he will play stink finger with Jack’s gals any more.

It has the word being used as a verb from 1888-94:

1888–94 ‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) IX 1738: A man on a set bending a little forward, and a woman standing in front of him — stink fingering of course.

Green’s has a cite as late as 1976.

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