Around The World In 18 Gestures

gestures around the world

Cultures around the world have different meanings for the same things. For example, the color green in Brazil represents the royal family, in Bangladesh it stands for the lushness of the land and in Mexico it represents hope and prosperity.

Because of these different meanings, we might end up accidentally offending a local when we communicate. The OK sing we do with our fingers, is totally innocent in the US, but restrain yourself from using it in Greece, Spain or Brazil where it is extremely offensive and although you might be expressing agreement, they will think you are calling them an a**hole. 

To help you avoid some uncomfortable situations, below is a fun and very informative infographic to learn about different communication signs around the world.

Around the World in 18 Gestures

Have you ever offended a local by accident?

15 thoughts on “Around The World In 18 Gestures

  1. It seems most of the world’s sign language isn’t exactly friendly. Thanks for a laugh (or a heads up)


    1. Haha, that is an interesting observation. Maybe we are better off not signing at all in foreign lands, except sometimes when there is a language barrier signing helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Traveloholic March 16, 2015 — 8:49 am

    Didn’t know about many of these. Another gem post 🙂


  3. I still think of the Friends episode in London where Ross makes a “timeout” symbol to a frazzled Emily, and she’s all, “well, up yours too!”


  4. That thumbs held in the fists gesture from Austria for good luck is quite common in the Czech Republic too, it also means good luck here.


  5. Great post! Gave me a laugh too, as I remembered the first time I gave the A-Ok sign to my Brazilian friend. 🙂


  6. Thanks for sharing stuff I did not know and would have got me in trouble :-).


  7. Love the illustrations! 🙂


  8. These are soool cool and interesting to know! Will certainly be sure to share this on our social media 🙂
    Luckily, we haven’t offended anyone so far… with this, hopefully that reduces the chances even more!


  9. Things to be taken care of… right?

    Beautiful post, Mani 🙂


  10. The “rock on” one is also the hand gesture for the University of Texas students when supporting their teams at sporting events. My Italian hubby could not understand why a whole stadium was sending this gesture to their own team when he first saw it…ha, ha, ha. ha….great post!


  11. These are really good to know. Just did a lesson about this in my ESL class! By the way, pointing at things with your feet is rude in Thailand as well and in Korea it is rude to beckon someone palm up (like you’re an animal) or not accept/give things with two hands.

    I’ve done the OKAY sign one time while abroad and immediately regretted it as I had no idea if it was an offensive gesture. I hope that most countries understand that foreigners aren’t really trying to be offensive and may not know if something might be considered rude. Nevertheless, always good to brush up before traveling.


    1. Yes I would hope foreigners would understand too if we make such mistakes 🙂


  12. Interesting! And to think that in the States I’ve often seen people quickly snap both fingers and then slap one open palm against the top of the other closed fist. Wouldn’t be very popular in France, apparently!


  13. Really well synthesised and looove the infographics (am trying to learn how to make them myself but without much success for now)
    The Chin Flick in Italian basically means “I couldn’t care less”, not really “get lost” as you quote 🙂

    Following you on Instagram, too!


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