A thumb signalusually described as a thumbs-up or thumbs-downis a common hand gesture achieved by a closed fist held with the thumb extended upward or downward in approval or disapproval, respectively. These gestures have become metaphors in English: "The audience gave the movie the thumbs-up" means that the audience approved of the movieregardless of whether the gesture was actually made. While the exact source of the thumb gesture is obscure, a number of origins have been proposed.
The gesture meant "Throw your sword down". A translation of Pliny equates the gesture with "assent" or "favor", and John Dryden's version of Juvenal's Satires gives the thumb being bent back, not down, as the death signal. Private investors spent enormous sums staging gladiatorial shows, despite attempts by various Roman governments to impose limits.
Do you have a question about history? Send us your question at history time. Historical confusion about that thumb-pressing gesture exposes just how difficult it can be to track the evolution of body language.
Pollice verso or verso pollice is a Latin expression, meaning "with a turned thumb", that was used in the context of gladiatorial combat. It refers to the hand gesture used by Ancient Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. In Italian language the expression "fare pollice verso" then took on the meaning of "opposing", "condemning".
This hand position is like the exact opposite of showing someone the thumbs up sign. After all when you give someone the thumbs up, it means that your thumb is fully extended and upright. In the gag reflex control hand position, the position of your thumb is the exact opposite of an upright thumb.
Seems everyone these days is giving the thumbs-up, no matter the circumstances. Edward Kennedy, D. Hillary Clinton, D.
Pollice verso or verso pollice is a Latin phrase, meaning "with a turned thumb", that is used in the context of gladiatorial combat. It refers to the hand gesture or thumb signal used by Ancient Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. The precise type of gesture described by the phrase pollice verso and its meaning are the subject of much scholarly debate.
In determining the outcome of gladiatorial combat, there is no indication how the crowd demonstrated its verdict regarding the defeated gladiator. Pollice verso translates simply as "turned thumb," but the manner or direction is not known. That the thumb, itself, was regarded as more important than the other fingers of the hand can be seen in its etymology. Macrobius SaturnaliaVII.
Of course Hollywood has reinforced this mistake. In fact, director Ridley Scott cites this very painting as the inspiration for his film Gladiator. That his film is a direct re-make of the epic Fall Of The Roman Empire seems to have slipped his mind.
The University of Kansas associate professor of classics, having slogged through hundreds of references to ancient Roman thumbs in literature and art, has concluded that the thumbs-up gesture was the kill signal. Moreover, Corbeill thinks that the raised thumb was probably in motion, reminiscent of gangsters ordering someone out of a room or of modern umpires declaring a runner out rather than safe. When the crowd wanted to spare a gladiator's life, Corbeill said, its members closed their fists and pressed the thumb down on the index finger.