History of the "Middle Finger"
Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French suggested cutting off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. They reasoned it would be impossible for the English soldiers to draw the famed English longbow without their middle digit, thereby making them incapable of fighting in future altercations.
The longbow was made from the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as ‘plucking the yew’ or, ‘pluck yew’ for short.
Much to the bewilderment of the over-confident French, the English army won a major upset and began mocking their French rivals by waving their middle fingers and saying, ‘See, we can still pluck yew!’ Over the years, the word ‘pluck’ has evolved into the curse word used most often in conjunction with the one-finger salute. Also, it’s because of the pheasant feathers used on the longbow’s arrows that the symbolic gesture is known as ‘giving the bird’.