首頁 > Stories behind Idioms
Thumbs up刊登日期: 2016.05.14
作者: Grace Tse
Very often in our daily lives, we make a thumbs-up sign or see someone giving a thumbs-up sign. In recent years, this sign has also become a popular emoji on the internet, particularly on the Facebook social media site and WhatsApp Messenger.
What do you want to express when you send this emoji to your friends? According to a survey, people use this emoji to express a lot of emotions such as “good job”, “keep it up” and “proud of you”.
In addition of showing the sign of thumbs up, people use the idiom “thumbs up” to mean approval and encouragement.
After trying the new dish, the customers gave a thumbs up（豎起大拇指；讚許）to the chef.
It is widely thought that the origin of this idiom came from ancient Roman combats. A defeated Roman gladiator could be spared from death when the crowd gave the sign of thumbs up. However, he was condemned to death when the crowd showed the sign of thumbs down. This story has also given rise to the idiom “thumbs down”.
He was very disappointed because his proposal was given a thumbs down（反對）by the manager.
This story became very popular because of the painting “Pollice Verso” by the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme in 1872. In the painting, the crowd made the thumbs-down gestures to a defeated gladiator.
Like a lot of idioms, the story behind “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” is still not certain. Scholars have made different interpretations of the gestures. For example, “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” said that if the crowd wished the gladiator to live, they enclosed their thumbs in their fists; if they wished him to be slain, they turned their thumbs out.
In recent years, you might have also heard “two thumbs up” （豎起兩個大拇指；讚不絕口）, which means strong approval. The saying came from a film review programme in the USA. The film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel used the thumbs-up and thumbs-down system to review films. When both of them gave the film a thumbs up, this means that the film was very good. The phrase “two thumbs up” was trademarked in 1995 to ensure that their film reviews were trustworthy and reliable.
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