Thumbs Up

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Thumbs Up : Phrases


To give approval.


If Siskel gave the movie two thumbs up, it is probably pretty good.


The phrase comes from the thumbs up hand gesture. It is attributed to the ancient Romans and the Gladiators who fought in the Coliseum.

When one Gladiator had emerged victorious in a fight, the spectators would get to decide if the loser should live or die. If they felt the loser had fought bravely enough, his life would be spared, otherwise he would be killed.

The spectators signaled their vote with a thumbs up for life and thumbs down for death.

In truth the thumbs down was not as we do it today, but instead a forward and downward thumb motion as if stabbing it into the ground. The thumb symbolized the weapon of the victor and hence the motions showed how the weapon should be used on the loser.

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