I Couldn’t Give A Fig

Fig leaves on a tree In the Fellows' Garden at Christ's College, Cambridge

These are fig leaves on a tree in the Fellows’ Garden at Christ’s College, Cambridge. I thought there ought to be small figs on the tree – but nothing at all. I’ll have to ask when I next catch sight of one of the gardeners. I know it is early in the season, but the horse chestnuts in the park are well developed.

If you are not familiar with the phrase, ‘I couldn’t give a fig‘ means not to care at all about something. I googled and found that the origin of the phrase is a sexual gesture of contempt made by placing the thumb between the first and second fingers.

It originally comes from the Greek sykophántēs formed from the Greek for fig and vulva, sŷkon + -phántēs ‘one who shows’.

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