Flip Someone Off

Also:
Flip someone the bird
Give someone the finger
Give someone the bird
Give someone the one-finger salute

Meaning of Idiom ‘Flip Someone Off’

To flip someone off means to hold up one’s hand with the palm facing towards you and with the fist closed, raise the middle finger. The general meaning is meant to be interpreted as fuck you but no specific meaning, other than disrespect or general anger, need be applied. In England, two fingers are often used instead of one, held up in a V shape, but still with the palm facing the body. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.

Usage

All the forms of this idiom are interchangeable. To flip someone off is the same as to give someone the finger or the bird. Another alternative is ‘the one finger salute.’

The two-finger version sometimes used in English might be misinterpreted as a peace sign in America. However, the peace sign is generally given with the palm facing out.

Examples Of Use

“One day you are going to flip off the wrong person.”

“Did that kid just give me the finger?” asked Dad?

“Your son, ahh, gave his teacher the finger today,” said the principal.

“Don’t pay any attention to all those people honking their horns, just give them the bird and move on.”

“My brother was fond of the old one-finger salute but I preferred a verbal rejoinder.”

Origin

Since ancient times the middle finger has been associated with the penis and raising it was used as a sign of disrespect. The Romans referred to it as digitus impudicus (imprudent finger). Taking the gesture still further, it is said that the Roman Emperor Caligula made senators kneel and kiss his middle finger, meaning they were symbolically kissing his penis. The gesture itself eventually died out until around 1886.

The ‘finger’ was not called ‘the bird’ until around 1960. Although there are historical cognates, it is not clear how this came about.

More Idioms Starting with F

More Bodypart Idioms

More Bird Idioms

More Finger Idioms

More Flip Idioms

More Give Idioms

More Off Idioms

Sources   [ + ]

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.