What is a rude hand gesture and what is okay to use in the UK?
Question asked by Aaron Levy from Israel
OUR BRIT SAYS:
GESTURING is a wonderful thing. When words fail, you can always wave your hands about in exasperation and people will usually understand what you’re trying to say to them. But we realise these gestures are not universal. Doing a gesture that means ‘hello’ in your country might not mean the same thing over here. In fact it might even land you in a bit of trouble. What might be an innocent enough hand signal to you might mean the most offensive thing to the other person.
So, to save yourself any embarrassment, or a black eye, here are GB Mag’s list of top hand gestures to help you communicate with other people in the UK and the ones to avoid:
1. The wave
Beautifully simple. It can either be an energetic childish flail from left to right, or the regal display often made by the Queen. Take your pick.
2. The salute
This is a more relaxed and casual way of greeting. Used when you already know the person and merely want to acknowledge that you’ve seen them.
Typically used when walking past someone in the street or in the shops. Not usually used as a conversation opener.
3. The two-fingered salute (V-sign)
This one is not a greeting, not unless you know the person very well! This insult is used to express your distaste for a person or their actions. The opposite sign to peace, this gesture can result in an aggressive response. If someone does this to you in the street simply walk away.
A quick tip, don't try ordering drinks at the bar with this hand gesture either!
4. The ‘w*#ker’ sign
A very colloquial sign. This gesture involves you moving your hand back and forth as if you are massaging a big cucumber. This (as you probably guessed) is used as an insult.
5. The middle finger
This gesture means the same as the two fingered salute, but only uses the middle finger. Used to express displeasure at a person, and usually means you want them to leave you alone.
This is not used as an insult, but deemed a rude action when in public. Pointing directly at a person whilst talking about/to them is not the done thing in the UK. Doing this can cause people to get irritated, offended or they’ll just walk away from you.
All of these gestures can make the difference when you’re talking to Brits. But make sure you use them in the right situations and with the right people...