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flip off

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:46 pm
by Ken Greenwald
<2019 “The woman who lost her job famously flipping off President Trump’s motorcade has won a seat on a county board of supervisors in Virginia.”—Time.com, 6 November>
Never came across this expression before but it sort of strikes me as one I should have been familiar with.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary

flip off transitive verb

flipped off; flipping off; flips off

US, informal

To hold up the middle finger as an obscene gesture of contempt to (someone).

<That same year Canadian sportswriter Jim Coleman—overcome after Team Canada beat the Soviet Union in hockey's Summit Series—turned from the press box and flipped off Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev.— Steve Rushin, Sports Illustrated, 6 June 2005>

<We throttle back to 45 mph, backing up traffic on Highway 12. Old ladies in Buicks flip us off. — Dan Neil, Car & Driver, April 1999>

First Known Use of FLIP OFF: 1982
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Surprisingly, this expression appears in very few dictionaries, even including slang dictionaries. I suppose a first appearance of 1982 is too recent and it is too scarcely used for many to have included it.

The versions of this expression that I am familiar with are flip the bird and give the finger.

The following are some quotes I was able to scrape up from various archived sources. Note that I found three - the earliest being from 1977 - that predate the 1982 year of first use given in the above Merriam-Webster listing:
<1977 “‘It’s easy for people to get on me because I’m cocky,’ he says. ‘If I done good, I’ll get that cocky kid look about me. . . But my reactions are strictly spontaneous. I might flip somebody off, I might tip my hat, I might start yelling at people.”—The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida), 19 June, page 76>

<1978 “His tantrums . . . have given him a reputation as the sport’s bad boy, an assessment Hogan took playful issue with. ‘I think I’m a nice boy,’ he said ‘I don’t think I’m unsportmanlike.’ Said Brumfield: ‘He’s extremely aggressive and he’s not a dramatic mental giant on the court. If he feels like flipping off the crowd, he flips off the crowd. And there’s no one to stop him.’”—The Los Angles Times (Los Angles, California), 18 June, page 61>

<1979 “Your article . . . was a bunch of false accusations to our Deer Lodge teenagers. If some Deer Lodge teenagers did happen to ‘flip you off’ how can you call all the teenagers . . . anemic pimply packrats. . . Other towns as well as Deer Lodge have a few kids who will ‘flip off’ a stranger. . . There are 500 kids in PCHS, and you saw 2 carloads that ‘Raised their middle fingers’ at you, well, I surely don’t think you need to take it out on the rest of us.”—The Missoulian (Missoula, Montana), 23 February, page 13>

<2019 “And, those little people turn into big people who flip you off if you drive too slow (or fast) or fight dirty for the job opening in your company.”—Casper Star-Tribune (Casper, Wyoming), 1 September, page C6>
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Ken Greenwald – December17, 2019

Re: flip off

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 9:58 pm
by trolley
Ken, I definitely remember hearing (and using) that phrase prior to the 70s. Surely, "flipping someone off" is just a shortened version of "flipping them the bird"...and that goes back as far as I can remember. Maybe it's a Canadian thing...we're really not all that polite!

Re: flip off

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 10:20 pm
by trolley
It's probably a good idea to avoid trying to communicate through gestures when you are travelling abroad...
https://people.howstuffworks.com/10-obs ... -world.htm

Re: flip off

Posted: Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:06 pm
by gdwdwrkr
Around here the appearance of the term was contemporaneous with the rise of digital communications.