wishbone


wishbone
   The forked furcula bone which lies between the breast and neck of a chicken, or other fowl, is popularly called the wishbone or Merrythought - the latter being the much older term - named after the custom which has incorporated it since at least the 17th century. Two people take hold of either side of the bone, some insist they must use their little fingers only, and pull until it breaks. "Whoever gets the largest piece can make a wish which, if not told to anyone, will come true. Nowadays mainly done by children, the custom is first described by John *Aubrey in 1686, although the word 'Merrythought' appears in earlier 17th-century contexts (see OED).
   ■ Aubrey, 1686: 92-3; Opie and Tatem, 1989: 448; N&Q 5s:11 (1879), 86.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • wishbone — 1860, from WISH (Cf. wish) + BONE (Cf. bone) (n.); so called from the custom of making a wish while pulling the bone in two with another person. The wishbone breaking custom dates to the early 17c., when the bone was a merrythought …   Etymology dictionary

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  • Wishbone — Wish bone , n. The forked bone in front of the breastbone in birds; called also {merrythought}, and {wishing bone}. See {Merrythought}, and {Furculum}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • wishbone — ► NOUN ▪ a forked bone between the neck and breast of a bird, especially one from a cooked bird which, when broken by two people, entitles the holder of the longer portion to make a wish …   English terms dictionary

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  • wishbone — UK [ˈwɪʃˌbəʊn] / US [ˈwɪʃˌboʊn] noun [countable] Word forms wishbone : singular wishbone plural wishbones a bone shaped like a Y in a cooked bird. Traditionally, two people pull the bone and the person who gets the larger piece can make a wish …   English dictionary

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