Posted by R. Berg on April 28, 2007
In Reply to: Prick my thumb posted by Brad on April 24, 2007
: : : : "to prick my thumb"
: : : : Does any one know the meaning of this phrase? I've read it in Shakespeare (Macbeth) and it wasn't annotated. I have also heard Robert Graves say it in an interview.
: : : "By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes"
: : : Shakespeare's witch does not prick her thumb (poke it with a sharp point). Her thumb is pricking by which she means she feels a tingling sensation in her thumb (like pins and needles). This tingling of the thumb was taken as an omen of something about to happen.
: : Thanks RRC - I thought it might be something like that because Graves mentioned the "pricking of my thumb" when reading through a book of poems, as a test, to see if there are any real poems in the collection.
: : I'd like to be able to follow this (that the pricking of one's thumb was an omen that something was about to happen...) up, however: could you recommend any sources? Thanks!
: ::You could try looking for sailors superstitions? A lot of those are on the same vein. "A storm is coming, I can feel it in my bones" etc
That last one may not be a superstition. Some people with arthritis can feel changes in the weather in their bones - more precisely, in their joints. ~rb