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date: 20 April 2024


A Dictionary of English Folklore
Jacqueline SimpsonJacqueline Simpson, Steve RoudSteve Roud

Traditionally, different fingers had different attributes and uses. The forefinger was considered ‘poisonous’ and therefore should never be used for applying ointment to a cut or bruise; in contrast, the ring finger, especially that of the left hand, was known in the 15th century as ‘leche man’, i.e. ‘doctor’, since doctors always used it to stir, taste, and apply their medicines. These ideas were still remembered in 19th-century Somerset: ‘The ring-finger, stroked along any sore or wound, will soon heal it. All the other fingers are poisonous, especially the forefinger’ (... ...

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