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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.
Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon1006741 — On May 13, 2022

I believe grown men showing their undergarments is much more offensive. It is not cultural; it's plain disrespectful.

By anon1006416 — On Mar 08, 2022

There is nothing natural about this at all. Please stop saying this. You have to train yourself to do this; it is the most unnatural thing you've ever done.

By anon1006027 — On Jan 14, 2022

Yes, why does it feel like it's coded into our genetics if it doesn't provide us something?

By anon1004648 — On Mar 22, 2021

I can remember the first time I ever did it and I remember why. I may have been 2 years old when I developed the habit and it was because as a small child you get the outside of your cup sticky. So I touched it with the least amount of fingers I could use it seems the pinky was all I could spare without spilling my drink. There is a lot of BS online about this but for me it was one of my earliest habits formed.

By anon1004627 — On Mar 18, 2021

Honestly, my art teacher was very adamant we didn't lean our whole hands on the page when drawing, and instead drilled using the pinky as support so we wouldn't smudge the graphite or charcoal. From there on it kinda translated to my everyday life.

By anon1004109 — On Nov 18, 2020

I also experience this as a natural occurrence of my pinky extended when holding items with forefinger and thumb. Curiously also when placing my hands on my waist.

By anon1002897 — On Mar 12, 2020

I saw a program about two brothers given up for adoption and going to two separate homes, raised separately. When they again were re-united not having known each other for their whole lives virtually, the both had the same model Harlys, drank the same brand of beer and both stuck out their pinkies when they drank.

By the way: Both my father and I do this and we both get yelled at on account of this by my mother. I'll bet any amount that it's genetic.

By anon1001462 — On Apr 19, 2019

Glad to find the answer to my question. I hold mine up too! No shame in my game.

By anon1000887 — On Jan 20, 2019

I thought it was to land the tea cup softly without making noise and putting it down because it was disrespectful or something. Or maybe I just got that from an anime and everything I think is wrong.

By anon999934 — On Apr 17, 2018

This has been the natural way my hand positions itself when drinking out of most bottles (beer or water) and some glasses. It feels unnatural to force all my fingers down and I think it is because my pinky acts (this will sound weird) like a counter balance to the weight of the glass as liquid sloshes around inside.

By anon995191 — On Apr 10, 2016

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

By anon994947 — On Mar 19, 2016

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.

By anon994630 — On Feb 24, 2016

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.

By anon994567 — On Feb 19, 2016

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

By anon993675 — On Dec 04, 2015

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?

By anon992684 — On Sep 23, 2015

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

By anon992240 — On Aug 24, 2015

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.

By anon991636 — On Jul 05, 2015

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

By anon356048 — On Nov 21, 2013

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

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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