Origin of the 'Pinky'?


Completely off the Topic of Tea

Origin of the 'Pinky'?

Postby SirSimian » Apr 18th, '06, 10:54

Hi there folks.

Does anyone know the origin/story of how, in English etiquette, drinking with the little finger (the pinky) being extended came about?

I have heard various tales about this, some saying the finger must be 'hidden' as it is rude to drink so. Others that state the Queen at one time had an injured finger, and so the whole Royal Court were instructed to drink in the same, pinky extended way, so as not to offend 'her Majesty'.

This started as a passing question at a party, no-one knew the answer, and it's been bugging me ever since. Any ideas?

Cheers.
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Postby rabbit » Apr 18th, '06, 11:40

I can believe the queen hurting her finger one.

In another similar example (this one was proven true) one of the kings (can't remember which one) was too fat to button the bottom button on his formal attire, and that's how the the now proper mens etiquette of leaving the bottom button of your suit jacket unbuttoned originated, and so if something as simple as the king being tubby can effect the way people do things forever after that, than I'm sure the queen hurting her pinky could have a similar effect.
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Postby Phyll » Apr 18th, '06, 14:57

Aren't you glad the fat king could button (zip?) his fly?!

As in Tea too, what the King/Queen/Emperor/Empress liked or liked to do became objects of vogue and everlasting tradition for the common people. For example, the top 10 famous Chinese tea is a list made up to reflect what types of tea were considered "tribute" teas for the Emperors. Each Chinese emperor, if I'm not mistaken, set a list of tea leaves to be tributed to him. Those that made the list became well-known and flourish commercially.
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Postby peachaddict » Apr 19th, '06, 18:42

rabbit wrote:I can believe the queen hurting her finger one.

In another similar example (this one was proven true) one of the kings (can't remember which one) was too fat to button the bottom button on his formal attire, and that's how the the now proper mens etiquette of leaving the bottom button of your suit jacket unbuttoned originated, and so if something as simple as the king being tubby can effect the way people do things forever after that, than I'm sure the queen hurting her pinky could have a similar effect.


One I've heard (I don't know if it's true or not) is that the reason Castillian Spanish is spoken with a lisp is that a king or prince had a lisp, so people spoke with a lisp in order to not offend the king or prince. Don't know if it's true or not, but it's a neat idea.
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Postby Marlene » Apr 26th, '06, 16:11

The best I can figure is that there are a lot of tea cups (not coffee cups or mugs mind you) that have fancy swirling stuff going on INSIDE the handle loop. You can't realy stick your finger through them (and I've heard it's improper ettiquite to do so even when you can) so you grasp the outside. The pinky simply helps balance things out a bit. If you don't, you can get a realy nasty hand cramp and spill hot tea all over yourself. (ask me how I know)
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Postby jzero » May 17th, '06, 13:06

I'll throw another apocryphal royal influence tidbit out there:

It is traditional to stand during the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel's Messiah for much the same reason - King George II was said to have stood when the song began, so everyone else had to stand, and it just stuck.
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Postby Darth Jeeling » May 21st, '06, 17:20

As soon as something gets to Britain, it seems its origins become utterly unpredictable, e.g. the popular pub name 'The Elephant and Castle' coming from the 'Infant de Castille'.
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