10 Obscene Hand Gestures Around the World

I know that in Canada, a nice flip of the bird is a good way of showing someone that they should probably keep their distance from you. However, the middle finger doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere in the world. So, I thought that it would be fun and educational to share with you 10 Obscene Hand Gestures Around the World that are just as rude to that of the middle finger.

10) Forearm Jerk

Used in France, Southern Europe and some Latin countries, the Forearm Jerk looks like a giant erect penis and is like a giant version of the middle finger. In other words, it means “fuck off” or “up yours.” 

9) Corna

Used in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Colombia and The Baltics, what I’ve always know as the sign for Rock n’ Roll means “your wife is a whore” in some countries.

8) Thumbs Up

In Iran, Afghanistan and parts of Greece, the thumbs up is understood as more of an obscene gesture, similar to saying “fuck you.”

7) Peace Man

When you make a peace sign with the palm facing inward, it can be taken as “up yours” in parts of the U.K., Australia and other Commonwealth countries. A great way to avoid getting the wrong message across is by reversing that peace sign.

6) Moutza

In Greece, Pakistan and parts of Africa, the Moutza consists of extending all fingers of one or both hands and presenting the palm or palms towards the to-be-insulted person in a forward motion. It’s one of the oldest offensive of the hand gestures dating back to the ancient Byzantine times, where it was the custom for criminals to be chained to a donkey and displayed on the street. To humiliate the criminals even more, the local townsfolk would rub dirt, feces and ashes onto their faces. Today, this is an extremely offensive hand gesture that shows disrespect to the person it’s being done to. The Moutza is usually accompanied with harsh words. The closer you throw your Moutza in someone’s face or if you use two hands instead of one, the more insulting it is.

5) You’re A-OK

While growing up, in school I always felt great when my teacher would give me the A-OK sign from across the room. It meant I was doing a great job. However, if I grew up in Brazil or Germany, and my teacher gave me the A-OK sign, it would mean I was being called an asshole.

4) Cutis

You may think you’re just picking something out from in between your teeth, but in India and Pakistan, this action means “screw you and your whole family.”

3) Wish Me Luck

Crossing your fingers may be something you do to wish yourself or someone else good luck, but in Vietnam this is an obscene gesture, especially if it’s done while looking at someone. Why? The crossed fingers are said to resemble female genitals.

2) Head Pat

When I see a mother or father pat their child on the head here in Canada, I think it’s quite sweet. In the Buddhist faith, the top of the head is the highest point of the body, and it’s where the spirit exists. To touch the top of a person’s head is highly invasive for both children and adults. Avoid this in any country with a predominant Buddhist population.

1) Beckoning

While in the Philippines, along with other Asian countries, if you want someone to come to you don’t curl your finger and beckon them your way. This is exctremlly insulting to the person you’re doing it to. This is because this gesture is only used for dogs. To use it with a person is derogatory; suggesting that you see them as a submissive inferior.

Did you know of any of these hand gestures before?

What’s a naughty hand gesture used in the country you live?

Kristen Sarah has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcho of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe. She’s also a television host and actress. You can catch her most recently guest starring in Season 4 of Angry Planet and Season 1 of Fabulocity.

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3 Comments

  1. April 9, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    I can’t speak for other countries but some of these gestures are part of sign language and may not mean the same thing in sign.

    I would ask a native sign language user if a hearing gesture means the same in their native sign language. It might not be offensive. But I do agree educating on all users the difference between hearing gestures and sign language gestures which has caused issues for the sign language community.

  2. Adeolu
    January 29, 2016 / 3:18 am

    The Moutza is common in Nigeria.

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