Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bird n.2

[echoic of a harsh bird-call]

1. (US, also big bird) a loud, derisive noise, imitative of a fart.

[UK]Egan Life of an Actor xii: The result of which is [...] debilitated constitutions; and the end of their folly marked by the attacks of the big birds (geese) driving them off the stage .
J.R. Planché Aristophanes’ Birds 6: So hear him patiently before you frown / Nor let his first shot bring the ‘Big Bird’ down [OED].
The People 6 Jan. in Ware (1909) 29/1: Three or four of the most prominent artistes [...] have been molested after leaving the theatre at night and threatened with ‘the bird’ — that is, hissing — unless their tormentors are well paid to remain quiet.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Dec. 24/2: It is long [...] since a referee’s decision at the National Sporting Club has been received with hisses, and a good sound chest the ‘bird’ had on it when H. J. M. Preston gave the Pedlar Palmer-Ware fight to the latter.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 28/1: Big Bird (Theatrical) A hissing figurative reference to the goose (q.v.).
[US]J.A. Russell ‘Colgate University Sl.’ in AS V:3 238: Bird: a noise made with the lips to indicate dissatisfaction with something.
[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 15 July n.p.: Another name for such labioglossal sounds is ‘The Bird,’ inherited from 19th century theater. The gallery made a hissing sound in giving an actor ‘the bird,’ so-named from the hissing sound of a goose; hence also, ‘the big bird.’.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 28/1: Bird. [...] 2. The common ‘razzberry.’.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 42: In the aural sense, a bird is the same as a boo, Bronx cheer or raspberry.

2. one who deserves ridicule.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 78: Ain’t she the bird.
[US]Current Sl. (1967) I:4 3/1: Bird, n. a stupid person.

3. (Aus.) one who has been dismissed from a job.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Oct. 40/3: ‘Y’ better do a bit,’ he growled. ‘If Burke spots yer, yer a bird.’.

4. any form of ridicule or derision.

implied in get the (big) bird
[UK] ‘Poor Little Angeline’ in Bold (1979) 181: Now this lowdown turd deserved the bird.

5. in non-theatrical sense, an act of rejection, e.g. of courtship.

implied in give someone a/the (big) bird

6. (US) usu. as the bird, an obscene gesture of dismissal, mockery; usu. in v. phrs below.

[US]Current Sl. IV:3-4 (1970) 25: Throw a bird, v. To make an upward thrust with the index or middle finger.
[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 55: bird ‘obscene gesture’.

In phrases

flip a/the bird (v.) (also bird, flick off, flip off, flick the bird, fly a/the bird)

1. to make an obscene gesture by raising the middle finger from the otherwise clenched fist.

Dly Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, NC) 19 Aug. 3/4: She was playing bongos in the paddy wagon and flipped the bird to the chopper before she lost her head.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 79: Bird To gesture with the middle finger. [Ibid.] 80: Bird, chuck a/the [...] Bird, flash the [...] Bird, flick the [...] Bird, flip a [...] Bird, fly a [...] Bird, give a/the [...] Bird, pop the [...] Bird, shoot a/the [...] Bird, throw the To gesture with the middle finger.
[US]Current Sl. III:3.
[US]L. Dills CB Slanguage.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 249: Did he flip her the bird again?
[US]J. Webb Fields of Fire (1980) 28: He mashed his face against the pane in a grotesque gargoyle stare and flipped two birds at them.
[US]S. King Christine 46: His middle finger went up as he flipped the kid the bird.
[US](con. 1968) D.A. Dye Citadel (1989) 235: He’s flippin’ the gooks the bird.
[UK]H.B. Gilmour Pretty in Pink 79: She caught Benny’s eye and flipped her the bird.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 85: She flipped him the bird and he kept his eyes on business.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 81: flip off/flick off to make an obscene gesture at (someone) by sticking out one’s middle finger while leaving the others in a fist.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 392: Chester Yorkin wising off at the mirror: making faces, flipping the bird.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 216: Dave flipped me the bird and the two of them walked on ahead of me.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 201: Ric flashed a finger. ‘flip this, niggerboy!’.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 3: gig – make the obscene gesture [...] Also flip someone off, fly the bird.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 99: I flip them off, sending the finger around the room.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 65: Dewey flipped the guy off before accelerating.
[US]Source Nov. 142: The album also flips a how-do-you-like-me-now bird to those who wrote Pras off as a well-dressed, cell phone carryin’ sidekick.
[UK]Guardian Guide 4–10 Sept. 5: Universal Life needs a few mere mortals to let it keep flipping the bird at the IRS.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 243: He noticed the two guys in the Honda Civic [...] black guys he’d flipped off.
[US]Eminem ‘Who Knew’ [lyrics] And fuck was the first word I ever learned / up in the third grade, flippin the gym teacher the bird (Look!).
[US]T. Dorsey Atomic Lobster 82: They’re flipping us off, the cocksuckers . . . Eat me!
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 41: Anita flipped him the bird.
Newser On Line 9 Feb. [Internet] Judge Forgives Teen Who Flipped Him Off. The Florida teen [...] flipped him the bird and dropped an f-bomb.
[UK]Guardian 26 Aug. [Internet] Please use your apparent clairvoyance to explain why she flipped him off.
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 270: A conservative Catholic Justice flips off a liberal Catholic Justice.

2. in fig. use.

[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 196: I’m glad we’re flippin’ off the mob here. In a special sort of way it makes me feel good.
get the (big) bird (v.) (also have the bird) [the image of the hissing noise that geese, and an unappreciative audience, can make]

1. esp. theatrical use, to be jeered, mocked etc .

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 73: ‘BIG-BIRD, to get the’, i.e. to be hissed, as actors occasionally are by the ‘gods’.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 82: ‘BIG-BIRD, to get the’, i.e. to be hissed, as actors occasionally are by the ‘gods’ big-bird is simply a metaphor for goose.
Age Jan. in Ware (1909) 29/1: Professor Grant, Q.C., had both ‘the bird’ and ‘the needle’ at the Royal on Monday.
[UK]Graphic 10 Apr. 399/2: To be goosed, or as it is sometimes phrased, to get the big bird, is occasionally a compliment to the actor’s power of representing villainy, but more often is disagreeably suggestive of failure to please .
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 38: And of course your dear brother artistes go off and tell all their friends how you got the bird.
[Aus]Aus. Star (Sydney) 16 Oct. 6/7: In theatrical parlance Henry got the ‘bird’ in the form of 14 days poultryless labor.
[UK]T. Burke Limehouse Nights 101: Rotten house to-night, wasn’t it? I thought we was going to get the bird.
[US] ‘Argot of Vaudeville’ in N.Y. Times 23 Dec. 38: It was an English dancer of this type who first spoke to me of ‘getting the bird’ and ‘the raspberry,’ both phrases meaning forcibly expressed dislike on the part of the audience.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 153: He had sung at her village concert once before and had got the bird in no uncertain manner.
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 58: You won’t get the bird.
[UK]J. Osborne Epitaph for George Dillon Act III: I probably would start howling any minute, only I’m afraid of getting the bird from my best audience.
[UK]J. Gielgud letter 12 Jan. in Mangan John Gielgud’s Letters (2004) 319: Hugh [...] feared it might get the bird in England.
[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 64: He wasn’t much of a singer and often got the bird.
[Aus](con. 1940s–60s) Hogbotel & ffuckes ‘Poor Little Angeline’ in Snatches and Lays 38: Now the dirty turd should have got the bird, / Instead she followed him without a word.
[UK]D. Farson Never a Normal Man 309: It might be funnier to have him [...] singing butch cowboy numbers which got the bird.

2. to be dismissed, usu. from a job.

[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 179: We ask for our salary and get the bird.
give someone a/the (big) bird (v.) (also hand someone a/the bird)

1. to express one’s disapproval vocally, esp. by hissing; also in fig. use.

[US]T.A. Dorgan Indoor Sports 3 Mar. [synd. cartoon] [UK speaker] Haw-haw bah jove he’s a fake. Give him the bird.
[UK]‘Ian Hay’ First Hundred Thousand (1918) 260: They knew that the country would soon start giving them the bird.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 25 Sept. [synd. col.] London audiences have been [...] frequent in giving American actors what they call ‘the bird’ – that is, a booing from the stalls.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 527: There’s a bit o’ calling out o’ t’back [...] Giving t’bird they call it.
T. Burke Real East End 31: It is a rough friendly audience. I once saw a demonstration of its inner character when it gave a clear and peremptory ‘bird’ to a woman singer.
[US]T. Thursday ‘The Wild Whampoo of the Whampolo’ in Blue Ribbon Sports Dec. [Internet] He got the Royal Order of the Razzberry, fourth class. As an added decoration, they gave him the bird.
[UK]N. Marsh Final Curtain (1958) 38: If you think I’m going to hang round here like a bloody extra with the family handing me out the bird in fourteen different positions you’ve got another think coming.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 28/1: Bird. [...] 2. The common ‘razzberry.’ ‘Some dude just hit the cooler (punishment cells) for giving the warden the bird.’.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 30: Roberta Wickham had been giving the bird through the years.
[NZ]J.A. Lee Shiner Slattery 51: It’s a man who knows when to give others the bird.
[US]G. Cuomo Among Thieves 286: Everybody hooting and hollering to beat the band, having a hell of a time giving old Manson the bird.
[UK](con. 1860s) P. Ackroyd Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 104: If they give you the bird, you whistle back at them.

2. to raise the middle finger as a gesture of derision.

[US]F. Elkins diary in Elkins Heart of a Man (1973) 17: We have a picture of the Russian tail gunner [...] giving one of our F-8 pilots the international one-finger salute, the bird.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 80: Bird, give a/the [...] To gesture with the middle finger.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 92: give (someone) the bird/give (someone) the bone [...] to make an obscene gesture at (someone) by sticking out one’s middle finger while leaving the others in a fist.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 22 Oct. 4: The Post’s front page featured a picture of Johanna giving the bird with her bandaged digit.

3. to reject, to dismiss.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 July 11/1: They had been engaged in ’07, but he gave her the bird and married another, who presently died.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Jim’s Girl’ in Digger Smith 68: ’E ’asn’t seen that girl for fear / She’d turn ’im down--give ’im the bird.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Vision’ in Chisholm (1951) 117: It’s bad enough to be a bloke without one reel close friend, / But when your dog gives you the bird it’s pretty near the end.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 96: It would be a bit of a jar for the old boy if I gave him the bird and went on the stage.
[UK]E. Waugh Vile Bodies 37: After the war my people give me the bird, yes, but they throw my Prime Minister out of the window.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 152: Staring before him rather like a strong, silent man in a novel, when he’s just been given the bird by the girl.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 81: She’s giving him the bird tonight, all right.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 42: to give [someone] the bird or the big bird is to dismiss that person, figuratively or perhaps actually, as from a job.
have a bird (v.)

(US) to become very angry.

[US]S. King It (1987) 23: Put all this stuff back, too. Or Mom’ll have a b-bird.
shoot a/the bird (v.)

(orig. US) to make a mocking, derisory gesture by clenching the fist and raising the middle finger.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 80: Bird, shoot a/the To gesture with the middle finger.
[US]G. Wolff Duke of Deception (1990) 98: Rosemary told me to clean my room, and I stuck up my middle finger, shot her the bird.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] shooting the bird v. ‘flicking’ the middle finger, usually accompanied with a ‘Fuck you!’.
[US]T. Dorsey Atomic Lobster 82: Those old ladies are shooting birds at us.