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25 Hand Gestures from Around the World, A Photo Guide

Updated on February 4, 2013
Hand Gesture Poster Meaning Get Lost
Hand Gesture Poster Meaning Get Lost | Source

A special "THANK YOU" to Jennifer M., our Hand Gestures model, who had entirely too much fun posing for these pictures.

Hand Gestures Have Always Been Popular

The use of hand gestures has been around since the beginning of time. Evolutionary specialist tell us that gestures are much older than speech. When our ancestors needed to share information, or stop Grog the caveman from sharing another rendition of his escape from a wild beast last spring--again-- it is a sure thing that a few "Hand Gestures" were put to good use.

Once the management of recording history began, those Hand Gestures of early times also got recorded. Our ancestors, used many of the same gestures we use today, and with grand gusto you can bet.

Evolving Hand Gestures

As the next several-thousand years past, the language of Hand Gestures continued evolving. Every region found on earth developed its own cleverly-colorful vocabulary of Hand Signs. Hand gestures literally point directly at where we have been, and where we are headed; finding absolute relevance in our modern society! With air travel around the world, we take our "approved by" Hand Gestures with us as we cross international datelines and into new countries that may have alternate meanings for the same Gestures. So take a minute and view just a few Hand Gestures From Around the World, and save yourself from making a mistake in a country that may just remove the hand that offers a far-more-rude than intended hand Gesture!

Are You an Idiot?

Hand Gesture for Are You an Idiot?
Hand Gesture for Are You an Idiot? | Source

The Jester

Meaning: Are You an Idiot?

Used in: Brazil

To get this gesture right, you will want to include your acting chops, as this gesture is a performance! Place your fist on your forehead while making a face and staggering slightly to indicate you are too dumb to walk. When done correctly you may just get a few snickers, but most likely NOT from your subject.


Hand Gesture meaning Bullshit
Hand Gesture meaning Bullshit | Source


Meaning: Bullshit

Used In: Brazil

To complete this hand gesture, place a flat, extended hand under your chin. You should only perform this gesture behind the back of a subject, because this signal is meant to inform every one else in the room that the stuff being said is meaningless chatter and should be disregarded as bullshit.


Silence Hand Gesture
Silence Hand Gesture | Source


Meaning: Silence

Used In: France

This gesture fakes deafness. Not to encourage the teller to repeat the words more loudly, but rather to stop talking altogether. This gesture would seem to be the quintessential embodiment of the saying, "silence is golden."

Piss Off (1)

Piss Off Hand Gesture (1)
Piss Off Hand Gesture (1) | Source

Forward Flick of the Chin

Meaning: Piss Off

Used In: Belgium, France, Northern Italy, and Tunisia

In France, this gesture means la barbe, or "the beard." The principle here is that the sign imitates the comparing of masculinity like a buck would flaunt his horns or a Rooster his comb. To complete this gesture, brush the top of your hand under the chin in a forward flicking motion that doesn't end until all four fingers 'pop' out from under the chin. While not as directly aggressive as comparing the size of manhood, this gesture IS legal and remains an insulting way to get rid of one's competitors.

Piss Off (2)

Piss Off Hand Gesture (2)
Piss Off Hand Gesture (2) | Source

Get Lost

Meaning: Piss Off (2)

Used In: France, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia

With this gesture of get lost, the left hand chops or clamps down on the right wrist, forcing the right hand to quickly angle up. The chopping motion imitates the severing of a thief's hand, which tells the subject they should be exiled like a lowlife thief.

Gay Man (top image) /// Lesbian (bottom image)

Hand Gesture for Gay Man
Hand Gesture for Gay Man | Source
Hand Gesture for Lesbian
Hand Gesture for Lesbian | Source

Gay Man and Lesbian

Meaning: Gay Man

Used In: Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia

One of the several hand gestures used in the Middle East that means Gay Man, this one is made by bringing the fingers and thumb together to look like a birds beak. This hand gesture is very degrading in that it indicates that gay men are like fowls when they move around, and that this person is considered a bird of that kind of feather...flocking together, so to speak.

Meaning: Lesbian

Used In: South America

Unlike the vast number of gestures that indicate the homosexuality of men, there are very few to indicate one is a Lesbian. This gesture is done by, rubbing the palms of your hands together in such a way that imitates sexual contact without penetration (bump and grind). Although not always derogatory, it is extremely forward and immensely crude.


Hand Gesture for Hooker
Hand Gesture for Hooker | Source

Thrusting Arm

Meaning: Hooker

Used In: South America

If you are looking to fully insult a woman's virtue this is the hand gesture you have been searching for. This sign is done in very bad taste by, holding the arm flat across your body with fingers extended while quickly moving the arm back and forth like the actions of intercourse. With this hand gesture, you let those around you know that the lady in question is a hooker and that you are a willing participant.

Untrustworthy in My Opinion

Hand Gesture Meaning Untrustworthy in my opinion
Hand Gesture Meaning Untrustworthy in my opinion | Source

Something Stinks in Here

Meaning: You are untrustworthy in my opinion

Used in: Southern Italy

This gesture finds itself in business negotiations more often than not. This gesture tells your business associates that you will not be taken advantage of. You have knowledge of the deceit they are attempting to perpetrate. To complete the gesture, move your nose side to side using your index and middle fingers. The movement means you think something stinks in the room, and you will get rid of the odor yourself if needed.

Breast Caress

Hand Gesture for May I Caress Your Breast
Hand Gesture for May I Caress Your Breast | Source


Meaning: May I caress Your Breasts

Used In: Lebanon and Syria (and many western countries)

A Middle Eastern expression of desire, this gesture asks a woman if the gesturer can caress her breasts. To complete this gesture, hold the hand horizontally and rotate as though screwing in a lightbulb. Use with caution. If executed improperly a light bulb may end up being the only thing you get to caress. (You thought I was going to say something else didn't you?)

Ignoring You

Hand Gesture for I am Ignoring You
Hand Gesture for I am Ignoring You | Source

Forget You

Meaning: I'm ignoring You

Used In: Greece

Form a downward facing arrow with the arms, hands, and finger tips which point toward the genitals. This rude gesture means a person is being ignored by you. No special equipment is required, men and women both utilize this gesture in the same manner.

Crazy Person

Hand Gestiure Meaning Crazy Person
Hand Gestiure Meaning Crazy Person | Source


Meaning: Crazy Person

Used In: Southern Italy

When in southern Italy, there is a popular gesture that indicates craziness in a person. This is done by, cupping your left hand under your right elbow and bringing all fingers and thumb together in a point while rotating your right arm in a circular motion. The indication here is that the subject's brain is spinning as fast as are the blades of a coffee grinder.

I'm Making Fun of You

Hand Gesture for I'm Making Fun of You
Hand Gesture for I'm Making Fun of You | Source


Meaning: I'm Making Fun of You

Used In: Worldwide

One of the oldest in our group of hand gestures, this one has but one meaning—taunting—but has many different names. In England alone, it is known by sixteen different names, one being "cocking a snook" (making a snout, that is). Where the gesture began is unknown, but the configuration is said to mimic a damaged nose or rooster's comb. It is actually a mild and playful insult when all is said and done. If you need to add a little flair to this taunting gesture, wiggle your fingers or place your other hand at the end of the first.

I Can Not Trust you

Hand Gesture for I Can Not Trust you
Hand Gesture for I Can Not Trust you | Source


Meaning: I can NOT trust you

Used In: Southern Italy

I am told crabs themselves are very honest and up-front, but the way they walk—an unpredictably furtive side-to-side shuffle— would leave one feeling otherwise. This hand gesture links the little fingers to mimic the dungeness claw and furtive movement. Which implies the subject can not be trusted.

Interested in you Romantically

Hand Gesture for Interested in you Romantically
Hand Gesture for Interested in you Romantically | Source

Neck Massage

Meaning: Interested in you Romantically

Used In: Lebanon

Perhaps because it is a location that brings a tingle when touched just right, the neck has been considered one of the body's best locations for romantic inspiration. In America, "necking" is the same as saying "kissing." While in Lebanon, a guy can tell his love interest that he has romantic feelings for the young lady by simply massaging the back of his own neck. So, when in Lebanon, be sure to only tend to those stiff necks in private, or you may just end up with an unwanted date for the night!

Stop Talking

Hand Gesture for Stop Talking
Hand Gesture for Stop Talking | Source

Be Quiet

Meaning: Stop Talking

Used In: France and USA

This hand gesture is a very harsh request. Also known as the ferme-la, more often than not it is accompanied by a verbal shout of ferme la bouche ("shut your mouth") and mimes the action of closing a mouth. To make this gesture, hold all of your fingers straight out and then clamp them down on your extended thumb, like you are grabbing something between your finger tips and thumb.

Dirty Thief

Hand Gesture for Dirty Thief
Hand Gesture for Dirty Thief | Source

Five Finger Discount

Meaning: Dirty Thief

Used In: South America

In South America, when a known thief enters the room, making this gesture allows all others in the room to know his true intent. To make this hand gesture, simply sweep your arm across the table as if you were trying to gather any money that might belong to some one else. Repeat this gesture a couple of times to really get the point across.

The Hand I Wipe With

Hand Gesture for I'm going to touch you or your food with the hand I use for wiping.
Hand Gesture for I'm going to touch you or your food with the hand I use for wiping. | Source

Wrong Hand

Meaning: I'm going to touch you or your food with the hand I use for wiping

Used In: Islamic countries

While using one's left hand is not a rude gesture in and of itself, using it in any Islamic country is at the very least a faux pas, sure to cause discomfort and be viewed as offensive. The left hand is generally reserved to use for body hygiene in these places of the world. If you offer food or a handshake with the left hand, you are certainly going to get a grossed-out reaction. Unless you are trying to gross-out the Islamic community, limit the use of your left hand.

Stick it (1)

Hand Gesture Meaning Stick it (1)
Hand Gesture Meaning Stick it (1) | Source

Thrusting Fist

Meaning: Stick it (1)

Used In: Lebanon, Pakistan, and Syria

Guaranteed to cause serious offense in areas of the Middle East, this hand gesture implies the degree of force it would take to thrust a large object through a particular circumference, causing unimagined discomfort. To make this gesture clear, push one fist through the grip of your other hand with significant force. You are guaranteed to offend your subject more than you could have dreamt.

Stick it (2)

Hand Gesture Meaning stick it (2)
Hand Gesture Meaning stick it (2) | Source

Shove it

Meaning: Stick it (2)

Used In: Greece, Latin America, Middle East, Russia, Sardinia, and western Africa

This rude hand gesture gets Americans in trouble all around the globe and most often in Latin American countries. In the USA this is a delightful little gesture that asks a person for a lift or shows approval for something that is really good. This couldn't be further from the meaning in the countries listed above. In these places, the thumbs up is an invitation to insert a thumb intra-anally. Jerk the thumb in an upward motion to add an extra serving of insult.

NOTE: In Turkey, this gesture is often an invitation to a homosexual encounter.

Getting Bored

Hand Gesture for I Am Getting Bored
Hand Gesture for I Am Getting Bored | Source

Five O'clock Shadow

Meaning: I'm Getting Bored of You

Used In: France

Another gesture that is related to the la barbe—which in French can mean "boring" as well as "the beard"this hand signal has the gesturer stroke his face as if feeling for a five O'clock shadow. This is in an attempt to convince the subject that he has been chattering on so long that a full beard has had time to grow. When in France, a cleanly shaved face would be the safest way to avoid giving this insult.

Crazy and Stupid

Hand Gesture for You are Crazy and Stupid at the Same Time
Hand Gesture for You are Crazy and Stupid at the Same Time | Source

Crazy and Stupid

Meaning: You are Crazy and Stupid all at Once

Used In: Japan

This gesture indicates stupidity in the Japanese culture. By pointing your index finger at your temple and rotating your finger a couple of times you get your point across.The gesture is used as both serious and playfully, so if your goal is to really offend your target, make sure to present it quite aggressively.

Ugly Female

Hand Gesture for You Are Ugly
Hand Gesture for You Are Ugly | Source

Ugly Piggy

Meaning: You are Ugly

Used In: Japan

If your target is not only stupid but also ugly, you will want to add this gesture to your already harsh displays. To create this sign—usually aimed at an ugly girl—push the tip of the nose up with the index finger. It is intended to mimic the snout of a pig, which the Japanese find very ugly (big nostrils are not considered attractive in Japan). Because of this line of thinking, it is also very rude to blow your nose in public. If you simply must, be prepared to see this gesture pointed in your direction.

Cheating Wife

Hand Gesture for Cheating Wife
Hand Gesture for Cheating Wife | Source


Meaning: Your Wife is a Cheater

Used In: Spain

Telling a friend that their wife has cheated is a really sensitive undertaking. Thankfully, in many countries, it can be a breeze to accomplish: one simply gives the subject the Corna. The Corna gesture has many meanings throughout the world, so consider yourself warned when using it. In some places it simply means good luck; while in others, it demonstrates how much a fan likes a sports team or rock group. The point here is this, if you are on the receiving end of the Corna gesture, don't be so quick to file divorce papers, they could just be telling you your wife liked the local Football Team.

You are a Beast

Hand Gesture for You are a Beast
Hand Gesture for You are a Beast | Source

Beast Claw

Meaning: You are a Beast

Used In: Japan

This highly insulting gesture is unique only to Japan. Keeping the thumb tucked tight to the palm of your hand, deploy all four fingers to represent the four legs of an animal. This nasty little hand sign references the oppressed filthy masses who work with four-legged animals as slaughter-house employees or in leather workshops.

When using this gesture be certain to tuck that thumb in, if the thumb is feathered out in a flat open claw along with the fingers, the gesture can be mistaken as meaning "I am going to violate your entire family, including the dog." No more extreme gesture exists.

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Have you ever given a hand gesture that was taken wrong?

See results

This article and all of its content is copyright protected ©2011 K9keystrokes

Comments for "25 Hand Gestures from Around the World, A Photo Guide"

Submit a Comment
  • IslandBites profile image


    5 years ago from Puerto Rico

    Interesting, vote up!

  • traveleze profile image

    Lee John 

    5 years ago from Preston

    What a wondering hub! Really enjoyed reading.



  • dghbrh profile image


    5 years ago from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!!

    Nice funny as well very informative hub. I did not know about most of these. Thank you for this share. Shared and voted up.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Thanks - I learned a lot!!

  • Melissa Orourke profile image

    Melissa Orourke 

    5 years ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

    Thank you for this informative hub! I am a former Flight Attendant, have you ever noticed we point with the entire hand or 2 fingers? One finger is considered rude in some cultures. Notice next time you are on a flight, during the safety demonstrations!

  • melissae1963 profile image

    Melissa Reese Etheridge 

    5 years ago from Tennessee, United States

    This is such an interesting Hub. It is so neat how different countries can use the same symbol to mean different things.

  • NathaNater profile image


    6 years ago

    Very interesting. I'm pretty sure I didn't know most of those.

  • iguidenetwork profile image


    6 years ago from Austin, TX

    Oh that's a very interesting topic. What we see as a thumbs-up the States could get me punched in other countries you mentioned. This is really educational. Thanks for posting :)

  • Toytasting profile image

    Toy Tasting 

    6 years ago from Mumbai

    Thanks for sharing the information. It is surely of great help. Even I have learned doing some of them. :)

  • Tashaonthetown profile image

    Natasha Pelati 

    6 years ago from South Africa

    Really interesting info and I have learnt a few to use!

  • MarleneB profile image

    Marlene Bertrand 

    6 years ago from USA

    Fascinating! I can see how people could get into a lot of trouble when traveling to other countries. Here's a hand gesture a friend from Germany taught my mom - To form the gesture, start with the "Beast" (shown above), then close the four fingers over the thumb, forming a fist with the thumb inside. The friend said that in Germany, this is the gesture for, "I am a prostitute." The friend said that if a prostitute is sitting at a bar or table and shows this gesture it is a way to advertise without having to say a word. Interesting.

  • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

    Emmanuel Kariuki 

    6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    Very interesting, I learned here that Japanese and Kenyans use the same gesture for "crazy." Where I come from, pointing to one eye with a bit of a sneer means "I have never seen." Pulling at one ear lobe with the same sneer means "I have never heard."

  • Organised Kaos profile image


    6 years ago from Hobart, Tasmania ~ Australia.(The little bit broken off the bottom of AUS)

    Most unusual and unexpected content.

    Nice to see.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    could you offer me the site about the diffenet cultural body languages?

  • donmanual profile image


    7 years ago from Playa del Carmen, Mexico

    wow! I love it. Very interesting hub!

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    The twirling finger to temple gesture is very common in America, and is understood to mean "crazy".

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    K9keystrokes, this is a very interesting hub. It emphasizes the need to make ourselves well aware of the gestures, especially if we are travelling to a foreign country so that unpleasant situations are avoided.

    It's very amusing to note that the thumbs up gesture, common to a lot of cultures, which stands for appreciation or even hiking a ride has an entirely different context in some other countries.

    An awesome, useful and interesting hub. Voted up and pushed all the buttons.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    femmeflashpoint~ How wonderful that you found a fond memory among the goofy hand gestures of this little hub. I enjoyed that you shared your story here. I am grateful that you stopped by for a read.



  • profile image


    8 years ago


    Funny, informative and visually intriguing!

    When I lived across the pond, I met up with a guy on a trail who was deaf. I don't even remember how I knew that because he was alone, walking his dog.

    I've been signing (ASL) since I was a kid, and I'm BAD at it because I don't use it often since moving away from home.

    But, he and I started "chatting", or attempting to, and during the "chat", which we somehow managed, he gave me a quick lesson in the English version of finger-spelling.

    It was interesting in that it was easily recognizable by probably anyone who is a rapid American Sign Language Speller, but different in that the English version uses two hands rather than one, in the U.S.

    Though there were differences, we "talked" for nearly an hour with little difficulty. :)

    I'd forgotten about meeting up with that guy until I read this. :)

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    carriethomson~ Thanks for your comments. I'm with you, a few rude gestures are enough to brighten anyone's day! So glad you found the hub entertaining as well as useful! Nice to see you here today!



  • carriethomson profile image


    8 years ago from United Kingdom

    hey K9 that is a very interesting hub!! sometimes enlightning and sometimes making you smile :)) loved it! yep great to know specially when you are travelling in a foreign country.


  • NiaG profile image


    8 years ago from Louisville, KY

    Thanks for the lesson. Though I think a better one could have been made for breast caress. Ha! Great hub.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    Simone~ Your comments are a clear indication that this hub is a job well done! It was a blast to create, and I even got to take out some subtle aggression while showing the "model" just how each hand gesture gets formed! Aaahhhh, you just have to love passive aggression! I am thrilled that you enjoyed the hub...thanks!



  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    8 years ago from San Francisco

    BAHAHAAA!! THESE ARE AWESOME! I didn't know ANY of these! I'm going to have so much fun insulting people now. HUZZAH!!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    Flora~ You are right, I didn't include the European/USA sign for "ok" (making a circle with index finger and thumb,while keeping all other fingers extended). I had to narrow my choices to keep the hub reasonable in length. But, one would NOT want to give this hand gesture, as such, in France! It kind of has a similar meaning as the "shove it" gesture.

    Thanks for swinging by, it's always nice to see you.

    HubHugs~(and a friendly kitty-cat caress for your fuzzy friends as well!)


  • FloraBreenRobison profile image


    8 years ago

    The gesture you have labeled as I'm Making Fun of You I know by the wording Kiss my A--.

    One you don't have here is the O.K. sign used in North America and Britain. It has a very different meaning in France

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 

    8 years ago from USA

    See this is why I can't go anywhere, I am bound to offend someone somehow without even meaning to. Very interesting.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    shibashake~ What a wonderful story, I want to throw my arms around your Shania and give her a big K9 hug! I'm so pleased that you like this hand gesture guide. It was pretty fun to research and share! I really appreciate you making it by today.



  • shibashake profile image


    8 years ago

    Awesome hub! You have expanded my hand-vocabulary greatly. :D

    There is a little boy in my neighborhood who was born deaf. Sometimes, I see him on his bike and we usually wave to each other. One time, he rode up to me and stopped.

    I do not know how to sign, but my dog Shania does it very well. She went up to the boy and gave him many licks. :D

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    Kimberly~ You made my day! Coming from you this has huge meaning. I wondered if those familiar with sign language would find this interesting, I guess I have my answer. Thanks so much for the bonus points, I will Cherish them!

    Massive HubHugs!


  • profile image


    8 years ago

    bookmarked up/awesome and sideways and I am not just saying this but maybe because I know sign language this is in the top 5 favourite of my hubs yet 29 months running


    stay cool


  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    Gordon! So happy to see you today, a drap Napa overcast is no match for the smile you bring to my face! Great information on the Brit salute, I will surely use caution when capturing the essence of the gesture; would not want to offend. Thanks so much for making it by, and for the smile!

    Huge HubHugs my Dear friend~


  • Gordon Hamilton profile image

    Gordon Hamilton 

    8 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

    K9 - loved your Hub. SimeyC is absolutely correct with regard to our most prominent hand gesture but you have to make sure you get it the right way round! It has to be the outside of the fingers (back of the hand) facing the recipient. The other way around is sacred to us for a very different reason - it was Sir Winston Churchill's sign of victory against the Nazis! Definitely not to be confused...

    Great info and hats off to your patient model! :)

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    cherylone~ I know! As an American the thumbs-up gesture means entirely different things when compared to how Latin Countries understand it! Telling a Greek he has done a good job by flashing him a thumbs-up may just get you popped in the nose! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here!



  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    arusho~ I found what had to be over 1,000 different hand gestures throughout the world, these are just the few I thought would have the most negative results if mistakenly given in the wrong country! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments!



  • cherylone profile image

    Cheryl Simonds 

    8 years ago from Connecticut

    I am very glad to have read this hub before visiting any other country. I might have been in deep trouble as I gave someone the 'thumbs up' for a good job...... Great hub.

  • arusho profile image


    8 years ago from University Place, Wa.

    That's a lot of gestures, but so cool to know. I need to practice the next time a travel to a foreign country!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    8 years ago from Northern, California

    SimeyC~ LOL! What a great bit of info on a cool British salute. I totally missed that one. Will have to research the actual action of the salute and add it in for sure. I love that you define the origin of the gesture! Thanks for the suggestion my friend, and for stopping by.



  • SimeyC profile image

    Simon Cook 

    8 years ago from NJ, USA

    LOL what a cool hub! You could add a two finger salute from Britain - and bring in the history where the English bow-men used the gesture to show the French they still had their two fingers to be able to pull the bow string!!!


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