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Why Do People Stick out Their Pinky Finger When They Drink?

The act of sticking out one's pinky finger while drinking is thought to date back to the medieval practice of using it for dipping into spices, such as mustard or salt, while eating. During this time period, eating utensils were not typically used. Rather, food was eaten with the hands, with the pinky fingers being extended out to remain clean so they could be dipped into spices and placed on the tongue. After the 16th century, utensils became commonplace, but the act of extending the pinky finger, particularly while drinking tea, has remained for some as an act of formality.

More facts about pinky fingers:

  • Many etiquette experts frown upon extending the pinky finger while drinking and deem it a sign of pretentiousness.

  • According to a 2010 study, exclusion of the pinky finger reduces grip strength by 33%.

  • After the 16th century, using one's pinky fingers to dip into spices and then place on the tongue was considered an act of sensuality and was opposed by many clergymen for being a sign of gluttony and lust.

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Discuss this Article

anon995191
Post 10

Sometimes it just feels natural to stick it out. I'm not sure why.

anon994947
Post 9

I stick out my pinky when I'm using the touchpad on a laptop as well as when I'm drinking from some glasses. I don't even do it on purpose.

anon994630
Post 8

I do it unconsciously if I have to hold a small tea cup handle, but if I am holding a beer mug or something with a larger handle I use all my fingers.

anon994567
Post 7

I thought it was used in medieval times when females would flirt with knights or something.

anon993675
Post 5

I used to drink with my pinky up all the time until I read an etiquette book stating it's bad manners to do so. Did I read wrongly?

anon992684
Post 4

I'm surprised that not using the pinky finger would affect grip strength that much.

anon992240
Post 3

I find myself sticking my pinky finger out when drinking sometimes. It's not something I try to do, it just happens.

@#356048: I used to think that when I was young.

anon991636
Post 2

Why do people still do it...that's what I want to know.

anon356048
Post 1

And here I thought it was just because the handles were too small.

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