Say What? 10 Hand Signals That Mean Something Else in the World

#1 The “Thumbs-Up”

Actually, Borat as himself would be considered as offensive in any country...
Actually, Borat as himself would be considered as offensive in any country…

What we think it means: Great job! Well done!

What Latin America, West Africa, Greece and Italy think it means: F*** you. With a huge smile. No, double thumbs up won’t alter your message. It basically means, crudely, sit on my thumb and swivel. A middle finger, to be more precise.

#2 The “Corna”

Those tatts would not be wise
Those tatts would not be wise in Portugal or Spain.

What we think it means: Aw yeah, rawk on! Hand signals that symbolise enjoyment at rock concerts.

What Spain, Portugal, Greece and Brazil think it means: “Your wife is cheating on you.” Or, we dislike you so much that we wish that’d happen to you. Often seen during the World Cup when the Brazilians get angry with the referee.

#3 The “Concha”

Do you think he got it?
Do you think he got it?

What we think it means: “Do you want to go and eat?”

What Chile thinks it means: “Your mum’s shell (erm, her genitalia)” or “F*** yourself.”

#4 The “Crossing of fingers”

What do double crossed fingers mean then...
What do double crossed fingers mean then…

What we think it means: “I wish I may, I wish I might.”

What Vietnam thinks it means: You’re insulting my mother’s genitals right now.

#5 The “Pat-on-the-head”

In anime, this means, "I care for you and this will be our eternal love story."
In anime, this means, “I care for you and this will be our eternal love story.”

What we think it means: “Well done, small child.” or “Heyyyy broo.” or “You’re cute.”

What Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka and most of Asia thinks it means: You are offending me as I am probably Buddhist or Asian, and the head is the most sacred part of the body. So no, personal bubble please.

#6 The “Forearm Jerk”

The irony is strong with this one.
The irony is strong with this one.

What we think it means: We can do it!

What France, Brazil and Southern Europe think it means: The middle finger.

#7 The “A-OK”

Oddly, conspiracy theories have cropped up relating her A-OK signal to mean that she's consorting with the devil. Or the Illuminati.
Oddly, conspiracy theories have cropped up relating her A-OK signal to mean that she’s consorting with the devil. Or the Illuminati.

What we think it means: “I’m underwater and I have enough oxygen to live!” or  “That meal hit the spot!” or “I’m good!”

What Brazil, Germany and a few Mediterranean countries think it means: The circle means the orifice of the behind, and therefore you are calling me an a**hole, or by extension, a homosexual.

#8 The “V-sign”

Yeah, we don't think she meant that at allllll...
Yeah, we don’t think she meant that at allllll…

What we think it means: “Peace” or “This is a cute selfie pose.” or “Two.”

What Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand think it means: Two fingers up your butt. Especially if the back of your hand is facing the person. This gesture apparently originated from the Battle of Agincourt where the British longbow archers won the day!

#9 The “Closed Fist”

Bet he didn't know what the
Bet he didn’t know what the Pakistanis thought of him.

What we think it means: “Yesss!” or Solidarity.

What Pakistan thinks it means: A fist up your butt.

#10 The “Moutza”

Leighton could do no wrong.
Leighton could do no wrong.

What we think it means: “Talk to the hand” or “Stop right there!” or “No.”

What Greece thinks it means: Eat poo.

Related: To Tip or Not to Tip: Guide to Tipping Worldwide

Have you experienced other hand signals that mean something else, nomads? 

Main photo: 1. 

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The Luxe Nomad

Like you, we love to travel but we think that staying at beautiful places shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. That’s why we’ve gone out there and snagged the best design and luxury hotels and resorts in the Asia Pacific region at rates you won’t believe. WanderLuxe is our little corner of the world where we share our inspirations and thoughts about travel!

2 Comments
  1. Actually about the thumbs-up I am italian and i don’t see it as offensive in any way and i think also all other italians are with me on this one: we use it as a positive remark..(well done,ok,good job)

    About the concha we Italians use it as to ” what are you saying?!”..”what a f..do you mean?” or “come on ..” not in a good way ..it is bad!
    In Turkey however they use it to underlined that the food is very good ..
    it means ” what i am eating is delicious…” or ” what i just had was very good”..or when talking about great food

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.