I'm watching the British series Up Pompeii! and the phrase "VV" (vee vee) makes the audience laugh twice. What does it mean? The uses:

  • The main character (Lurkio) announces it's Vestal Virgin or "VV" day. He even comments when the audience laughs that they're "lowering the tone [of the show] already".

  • When counting off in Roman numerals, Lurkio is "IV" and the last person in line is "V", resulting in a "coincidental" double V from "IV V", make the audience laugh.


The phrase VV (or "vee vee") isn't funny by itself per se...it's mostly Howerd's delivery of a new joke phrase..which could in part be comparable to "VE Day"...but as I said, it's mostly the delivery...but you can watch it for yourselves.

As for the the double V from "IV V", that's not what is funny...it's the V-sign that Howerd makes when counting 5.

The V-sign in British culture is the equivalent of the US "middle finger" salute and is the physical embodiment of "eff" you/off.

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The insulting version of the gesture (with the palm inwards Reversed victory hand) is often compared to the offensive gesture known as "the finger". The "two-fingered salute", (also "the forks" in Australia) is commonly performed by flicking the V upwards from wrist or elbow. The V sign, when the palm is facing toward the person giving the sign, has long been an insulting gesture in England, and later in the rest of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, India, Pakistan and New Zealand] It is frequently used to signify defiance (especially to authority), contempt, or derision.


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    Historians still have debate over the origins of the gesture/meaning, some of them says the *2-fingered salute" 1st occured during the war between England and France (1337 - 1453). Englishmen had a great edge over the French army because of long-bows (fast bowmen vs slow heavily-armored knights). When French would capture a bowman, they would chop his index and middle fingers, so that they can't use their weapons anymore. After a couple of battle, Englismen used the "two-fingered salute" to tease the Frechmen: "come and get them if you dare/can !". – OldPadawan Jul 25 '17 at 7:29
  • Funnily enough, the cover art for Left 4 Dead 2 was changed specifically for the UK region (link - UK on the left, international on the right). To a Brit, the right hand image looks like this. – Flater Jul 25 '17 at 8:40
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    @OldPadawan: That has been debunked by QI (link) QI has also made mistakes, but their reasoning seems fairly solid for this, as to the hostage taking of useful people, and the fact that modern longbows require 3 fingers; and classic longbows would have had a considerably larger weight (thus making it unlikely to be pulled with only two fingers). – Flater Jul 25 '17 at 8:44
  • @Flater Though you don't need to remove all the fingers, just enough to prevent weapon usage. – JAB Jul 25 '17 at 17:57

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