Some people think hand gestures are universal around the world. however, in different cultures a lot of common hand gestures may imply different things. if you happen to travel around the world, it is best to watch what you do with your hands. Simple things like the okay sign or peace fingers may mean good things where you live, but in different countries you may be insulting someone.

While some of these gestures mean good things, others also mean bad things. when you travel internationally, it is best to just avoid any common hand gestures. Use your words and not your hands. This can be difficult if you talk with your hands and do some gestures without even meaning to.

thumbs up

Thumbs Up

In America and some places in Europe the thumbs up symbol is pretty well known. it means things are going pretty as planned or pretty good. Sometimes it is also used to hitchhike. However in Islamic countries and some Asian countries it is incredibly rude, meaning something similar to "up yours". In Australia it can be used as a positive sign, but if you move it up and down, it is and insult.

Thumbs Down

Opposite of the thumbs up, the thumbs down means that things are not going well. It holds pretty much the same meaning all over the world. It is considered rude because it means that someone failed at something or did a bad job. Best to just keep your thumbs to yourself.

thumbs down
fingers crossed

Fingers Crossed

Crossing your fingers means you are hoping for something to succeed or for good fortune. it is also a sign that someone is lying. They cross their fingers behind their back to ward off the evil that comes from lying. This sign is not often used in Muslim and Asian cultures, so it doesn't really have any negative or positive connotations there.

Okay Sign

The okay sign in America it means everything is okay or going fine. However, in France and Latin America it is considered insulting as it is a symbol for your anus. In Germany it can have the American meaning or the French meaning depending on where you visit. In Australia, it is a quick way of saying zero. In Turkey and a few countries in that region, it means you are a homosexual.

okay sign
the moutza

Talk to the Hand

Thankfully the "talk to the hand" trend died out after the 90's, but if you are a nostalgia trendie this is something you best avoid. While in America doing the talk to the hand gesture is basically telling someone to shut up, it means something more sinister in other countries. In Greece and Muslim countries, this is referred to as the Moutza. It is a grave insult basically telling people to go eat excrement and leave you alone.

Peace Sign

Holding up the index finger and middle finger in the shape of a 'V' in America is known as a peace sign. In Europe it is known as a sign for victory because of the 'V' shape. However, in Europe if you have the palm facing towards you instead of outwards, it becomes an insult. The meaning changes to 'up yours' with just the turn of a wrist.

peace sign
got your nose

Got Your Nose

Wedging your thumb in between the index finger and middle finger is known as the 'got your nose' game around babies in America, however in Europe it is known as 'the fig'. In Roman culture this was considered a sign of good luck. However, since then it has become a vulgar gesture to Italians and Turks as it looks similar to the female vulva. In some Asian countries it can translate to 'screw you' so watch who you play got your nose with abroad.

The Rocker

The rocker is achieved by raising the index finger and the pinky while keeping the other fingers curled into a fist. This is a symbol in America to cheer on rock bands, but also represents the horns of a bull. Around the world, this symbol is referred to as the corona. It can be a sign for the devil in many places. In Buddhism and Hinduism this gesture is used to dispel evil. However, in the Mediterranean area this symbol is an old symbol that meant your wife is cheating on you. I guess it is handy to have a symbol for that, as it can be difficult to tell someone that, but yeah probably best to contain your rocking to not upset anyone's family life.

the rocker


In America and Europe, everyone's parents told them it was rude to point. Civilized people do not point, it is considered rude. This hand gesture is actually pretty universal in meaning. You are aggressively singling a person out. It is rude all around the world in that way as no one likes to be singled out, it is especially something you want to avoid in the business world. Try instead to gesture to those around you with an open palm, that is considered much more appropriate as a palm encompasses everyone and shows that you are presenting your palm as a friend.

The Clenched Fist

Like point your finger, raising a clenched fist is also pretty universal. It is a sign of aggression anywhere you go. It means you want to pick a fight or dominate a person, crushing them inside of your fist. Keep your fists clenched at your side and never raise them to in pick a fight. Some military groups use it as a sign of defiance, but in Asian countries it usually means you want to initiate a fight.

clenched fist
middle finger

The Middle Finger

The last gesture is also the most universal. Anywhere you go if you raise your middle finger at someone, it is pretty much the worst gesture you can do. In Mediterranean and Muslim countries raising the index finger in the same way is considered pretty much the same meaning. Do not be rude and go jet setting around the world flipping people the bird, it speaks poorly not just on you but your home country.