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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