5 common North American gestures that can cause offense abroad.

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Things can get lost in translation when a typical gesture from your country means something completely different  in other parts of the world. Below are five common North American gestures that can cause offense abroad.


“Talk to the hand”. In Greece this gesture is used  to denote displeasure towards the recipient. It is said to be a remnant of Byzantine times, when people could taunt shackled criminals by smearing their faces with excrement.


“Victory”. With the palm facing outward, this V means victory in England, or peace in North America. Too bad the back-handed V sign means “screw you” in most of the English-speaking world.


hand2“Thumb up”. It is especially problematic in certain parts of the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia, where the thumbs up is a more aggressive gesture that is basically flipping the birdie to someone.



“Bull Horns”. In Italy this gesture means that a man’s wife is being unfaithful, and he is a fool because of it.


hand1“Got your nose”. In places like Indonesia, China, Russia, and some Mediterranean regions (particularly Turkey), the Fig sign can have an insulting meaning roughly equivalent to “screw you.”