Finger Gesture Guide

There's a fine line between a finger gesture and a hand gestures, but in this guide you'lll find the gestures where the finger movement is the most important part.

Finger gestures are almost always intentional. Whether you flash someone "the finger", or ask for silence, or pointing somewhere, it's certain that you meant to make that gesture. But some finger movements are unintentional. Examples of this are drumming with your fingers on the table, or putting your fingers over your mouth when you lie.

The Finger Gestures

Here you can find pictures and explanations of the most common finger signs:

Thumbs Up!
Well done!

Thumbs up

The "Thumbs up", is generally accepted as a sign to show someone that they've done good.

But only in Western society! In many cultures putting your thumb up (especially when moving the hand up) is a very rude gesture, similar to extending the middle finger.

So, be careful, while you mean well... this could be misunderstood. Better check first!

Everyting OK!

Ok Sign

Another western sign to say that everything is great, or OK.

But, again, be careful... If you're in France, you're saying that it was a big fat ZERO. Maybe not the message you want to convey in a French restaurant, if you had a fine meal. In other cultures, Turkey for instance, you're saying that the other person is gay... not necessarily a good message in a country where most people are Muslims!

Again, proceed with caution!

Pointing finger
Let me tell you...

Pointing finger

Most of the time, when you point somewhere, it's just to have someone look at something. "It's over there", "Watch this".

But when you point AT someone, it's a sign of dominance. The back of the hand is pointing upwards (a clear sign of dominance), and the finger is casting blame... "YOU DIDN'T KEEP YOUR PROMISES!". Even worse is when you're poking someone, as you violate their space.

Alternatively, if the finger is pointing upward, it's to caution. It can make the other person belittled, as this is a sign parents are used to make towards their children.

Middle finger
F*** OFF!

Middle finger

The middle finger is a fallus symbol, a sign mimicking a penis and testicles.

In essence you say: "My Dick is Bigger than Your Dick!" and is a way to say that the other person is sexually inferior (See also: where did the middle finger come from?).

The middle finger gesture can really enrage the other person. Don't say we didn't warn you!

Up yours!
Up yours!

Up yours

Often this is a signal to say "2", as in "2 Beer!". But in some countries this is another variation on the middle finger.

In the United Kingdom (and some other English speaking countries) this is as bad as "flashing the finger", and used to taunt someone in hope of enraging them, to make them spin out of control.

Up Yours! is a nasty finger signal, and one that could get you in a lot of trouble! Not a way to order two beers in the UK.

You're crazy!

You're crazy

When you point at your forehead, you're saying that the other fellow is crazy.

This isn't always a rude gesture... we sometimes do this to make someone near us aware of the fact that you shouldn't always have to accept the things other do or say to you.

But when used in anger (like in this picture.., look at his face, which is clearly an angry face. See also: Facial Expressions) it's as bad as the middle finger gesture.

We won!


This sign, with the palm pointing outward, could be to signal the number "2". However, in a competition (or a war) it's also a signal for "Victory" (V for Victory, as made popular by Winston Churchill in WW2).

In the 60s, this finger gesture was also known as the "Peace" sign. Usually accompanied with the stench of pot smoke...

Picking the nose
Gross! ;-)

Nose picking...

Ha ha! You didn't expect this one here, did you?

We're just having a little fun here with you. This isn't a real finger sign, of course. The index finger is just a means to an end.

A deep end, in fact. :-D

Not an acceptable activity to do in public. Note: when you're alone in your car in a traffic jam, you're not really alone.

Devil gesture

Rock On!

This gesture, also known as a variation of the victory gesture, is mostly done by people who want to look "bad", or "cool".

But this gesture is often seen as a depiction of the Devil's Horns. So while you may just be signaling your "coolness", others may just think you're a Satanist. Which, I assume, you're not.

Also a popular sign for Metal-bands.


Silence gesture

Bringing your index finger in front of your puckered mouth, often accompanied with a hissing sound of air rushing over the tongue (Shhh!), is known as the silence gesture.

Don't mix this up with the unintentional gesture that someone brings their finger or fingers over the mouth while speaking... that is a tell-tale sign that someone is lying.

"Quote ... Unquote"


If someone is curving their index and middle fingers in the air, once or twice, this is a gesture to mimick the double quotes (")in text...

The words that are spoken when this gesture is made, are actually meant as the opposite, as in Oh yeah, she is so "great" and so "wonderful". Obviously, this person doesn't really think she is great and wonderful, quite the opposite in fact.

Back from Finger Gesture to Hand Gestures

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