Hand gestures around the world

Thursday, May 19, 2016


The last thing you want to do when travelling is innocently cause offence, but have you ever stopped to think about what your body language might be saying? Hand gestures, in particular, can have very different meanings around the world. A brief overview might help save you embarrassment.

In the UK, you wouldn't be too happy if someone made a V sign at you, but if you're in the USA, it's just fine - it means 'peace'. Other hand gestures which might seem quite innocuous in Australia, North America and the UK are best avoided in other countries. Don't, for example, when in Brazil, accidentally invert a thumb and forefinger circle to signify OK - it's their equivalent of showing one finger. Horn fingers might harmlessly mean approval for you, but in much of Europe and South America it indicates a cheating wife. Far from meaning that something is good, thumbs-up in Latin America and the Middle East means 'up yours'.

If you are on the receiving end of gestures, it might help to know what they mean. If you get a chin flick in Italy, it means the other person couldn't care less. Beware of an Italian squeezing his nose between his index and middle fingers - he thinks you're not trustworthy. A fist and elbow in Latin America, known as the Tacaño, means you're stingy or you haven't paid your bill, and you should interpret an outstretched hand in Greece, Africa or Pakistan as confrontational.

One gesture, though, seems to be universal in most cultures around the world. Putting your head to your fist means you're an idiot!

But there's one gesture you really shouldn't miss. With a free Lycamobile sim card, there are no roaming charges in 18 countries around the world.


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