Why does America greet America with the palm down?

Gesture etiquette

Actually we just wanted to wave friendly, but why do the locals look at us so grimly? The gestures that are so familiar to us often have a different meaning in other cultures. Therefore, with a well-intentioned gesture, we could offend locals or even maneuver ourselves into unpleasant situations.

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In the Romance countries like France and Italy it is quite common to use stronger gestures and facial expressions to deal with. There people speak louder and show their feelings, such as anger or joy, more clearly. Let us take the weather report as an example: While the weather in Germany is presented in an emotion-neutral manner, significantly more emotions and gestures can be seen in the southern countries.

Also the Talk distance between two people is culturally determined and can lead to certain irritations if certain customs of closeness are exceeded. While the German likes to keep a certain distance from his counterpart, the French definitely look for closeness during a conversation. The consequence of this can then be that the German continually retreats in a conversation and the French interlocutor pushes him further and further back.
So how fast you can with a Gesture abroad we reveal in ours Gesture etiquette:

thumbs up

The one popular in Germany and most European countries thumbs up expresses something like “well done” or “everything is okay”. In Greece, Australia and Russia, however, this sign is a rude, obscene gesture.

Who with the Hitchhiking car wants to be taken away, keep your thumb out. In Israel, however, this hint is not considered a sign of hitchhiking. Here prostitutes use it to attract their customers.

The victory sign made up of the index and middle fingers

The Victory sign has many different meanings internationally. In Germany and most western countries this symbol is understood as Victory gesture. But in Australia, Great Britain or Malta, this gesture means something completely different. If the back of the hand is also turned outwards with this sign, one would like to say something like "Put two fingers in your buttocks". So this is a very insulting gesture.

In Germany the victory sign is also referred to as a in alternate circles Peace sign used. In pubs and beer gardens, on the other hand, people like to use their two fingers to order two more beers.

in the Road traffic this sign is rare. Except in Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia. If one is shown the V sign there, the other does not want to make peace or drink two beers with one. This gesture applies to "f *** you“If, for example, you snatch the parking lot from under someone's nose.

The circle of fingers made up of the thumb and forefinger

In the USA and also in Germany this gesture stands for “okay” and in relation to food for “delicious”. But not in Greece, Russia and Turkey. Here this symbol indicates a human body opening and is considered to be very obscene insult. In Belgium or France, on the other hand, it is used to mark something or a person as worthless. In Brazil and Thailand, this gesture indicates something obscene. In Mexico it is even an invitation to sexual activity.

In Japan you play with this gesture again money at. And if you are confronted with it in some Mediterranean countries or in Russia, we are neither considered worthless nor well-off, but imputed to us Preference for the opposite sex.


Waving is used in most European countries and in the USA whenever it is about Greeting or farewell goes. In Southeast Asia and Turkey this is considered to be insult, as long as you are directly across from each other.

To someone waving his hands over, the palms of the hands are pointed upwards and the other person is made to understand with a waving movement that he should approach. If you want to beckon someone to you in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Tunisia, Southeast Asia and South America, you can do so by using the Palms down when waving directs. The beckoning is called in parts of Asia and Oceania outrageous felt, because only dogs and lower creatures are waved over there. When a Japanese person waves to a tourist by bending his hand forward, he does not want to say goodbye to the tourist, but wave to him.

Show the bird

Not only in Germany does one press Tap your forehead with your index finger from: “You probably don't have all the cups in your cupboard anymore.” But in the USA you can make someone else with it compliment and wants to express that the other is particularly clever or intelligent. It is also common in the US to have this Gesture in traffic to use. If the index finger is turned slightly in a circle at head height, one would like to warn the other road user about the police.

Count with your fingers

Show piece details with your fingers, is quite common. Anyone in Germany who shows the waiter thumb and forefinger would like to order two beers or at least two drinks. In Great Britain the guest only gets one beer for this gesture, while in China he would get eight glasses of barley juice.

The nose between the fingers

This harmless game with children, where you grab the child's nose and then supposedly hold it between your fingers, with the Thumb between index and middle finger peeps out is not a symbol of a game in every country. This game is known in Germany, the USA, Great Britain, Spain and France. However, this gesture loses all innocent charm in Italy, Greece, Turkey or the Netherlands. There you play on them like that female genitals at. Therefore, in some countries it is better to keep your hands off your nose!

Nodding and shaking his head

Particularly insidious traps lurk here, because Approval and rejection are signaled differently in many countries. So the gesture for a yes in India can easily be misunderstood, since it consists of a Head dangling sideways which is very similar to our negative headshake. To say no, the Indians give a short shrug of their heads and click their tongues.

To signal a yes, people in Ethiopia throw their heads back, while in Turkey, Greece and southern Italy this is considered a negative gesture.




The index finger

Even in Germany it is not considered particularly polite to deal with the (bare) index finger to point at (dressed) people. However, this is not yet an insult. In Thailand However, this gesture is a downright faux pas and in South Africa it can then get really uncomfortable, because there even pointing with the index finger at people becomes counted as an attack.

Hit your hand with your fist

This gesture does not mean anything good to us, because with it you threaten the other person with trouble, if not even Blows at. However, if you are in West africa and the local may look too carefully at his own wife and gesticulate, if we want to put him in his place and hit his hand with his fist. It is quite possible that the West African is happy about it, because that brings us to ours Woman sells. Here, this gesture is considered to be consent to a deal.

Shaka sign

Who does not know the gesture with which we hold our thumb and little finger next to our head and want to say to the other person: “Let's talk on the phone!” In Italy but is it the request: “Do we want to have a drink together?” And up Hawaii On the beach you don't want to phone us or go for a drink, but greet each other with the Shaka symbol among surfers.

The "French fries fork"

What under Rockers and heavy metal fans is a common sign, it can cause a lot of trouble in Italy. Because that's how it will be horned husband who was betrayed by his wife. Italians use that mano cornuta gladly to the To provoke or insult someone. Always works, because with your own wife the fun stops with southerners.


To as many as possible Blunder to circumnavigate, known profanity should generally be avoided. Also let the stretched middle finger and the bent arm with a clenched fist few questions unanswered around the globe. With the affirmative and negative gestures, however, as already mentioned above, major misunderstandings can arise.

If you don't want to do without gesture-rich communication on vacation, you should definitely find out about typical gestures to inform. For everyone else, the following applies: if you want to get through foreign countries without unpleasant surprises, you better avoid gestures. This shouldn't be difficult, especially in the car: just keep your hands on the wheel!