phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"thumbs up/thumbs down"

Posted by James Briggs on May 13, 2000

In Reply to: "Thumbs up/thumbs down" posted by Kathy on May 13, 2000

: I seem to remember hearing that, historically, "thumbs up" meant for a life in the Roman arena to be taken, and vice versa for "thumbs down," which is the opposite of the meaning today. Can you help? My daughter just saw the movie "Gladiator," and I wanted to give her a history lesson! Thank you in advance for your response!!

I think you've got the signs wrong. Certainly, here in Britain "thumbs up" is good news and "thumbs down" bad. I believe it was that way round in Roman times too. Certainly the signs could give, or remove, life from a gladiator.

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