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Also called 'giving (it, them, someone) the v's.'

This is sticking up at someone or something as a gesture of defiance the index and middle finger, separated to form a 'v' shape, with the thumb and other two fingers folded in towards the body. It is usually executed with an upward thrusting movement or flick of the whole hand. Making the gesture with both hands at the same time adds emphasis and expresses stronger emotional vehemence.

It derives from the medieval wars between the English and the French. English archers were renowned for their use of the powerful and deadly longbow. If they were captured by the French their captors would cut off their index and middle finger before allowing them to be ransomed so that they would never again be able to draw the longbow against them. Hence displaying these two fingers signifies defiance as it means something like "I don't have to fear you because I have the capacity to use the longbow, therefore I can get you." Today, however, this origin is largely forgotten and it is more generally seen just as vulgar and insulting.
The yobs amused themselves by doing the v's at passing cars.

The boy was excluded from school for giving his class teacher the v's.

The row ended with Alan driving off angrily, leaving Caitlin to make her own way home. As a parting shot she did the v's at his retreating car.
by ladyword December 12, 2013
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