The world’s most confusing body language

The world’s most confusing body language

Ever suffered from a bout of foot-in-mouth disease whilst in a foreign country? Well, get some common hand gestures wrong while you travel, and you may end up putting your foot in it without ever opening your mouth. Here at we thought we’d make it easier for you. We’ve devised a list of the most misunderstood and confusing hand gestures to make sure you don’t end up offending someone when you wish to compliment them, or vice-versa.

Thumbs up

With the overwhelming amount of American movies circulating the world, it is peculiar to learn that a ‘thumbs up’ can still be misunderstood in some countries. Do it in South America and some regions of Africa and you may well get punched in the face; do it in the Middle East and you’ll get lynched, this is about as insulting as you can get. Funnily enough in Germany it just means the number one, so unless you’re about to order one of something, it’s bound to be a little awkward.

Talk to the hand

We’ve all seen six year olds do this to each other and it’s hysterical, but not so much if you’re in Greece. The ‘moutza’ is a world class offense there, so don’t be surprised if you get chased out of the country by an angry mob. It’s also considered offensive in Korea and Pakistan. Sure it can be just as rude in our countries, but trust us; it takes a whole different meaning in others.

Come here!

Curling your finger towards you, to get someone to come over, can also have many interpretations in our countries, but in the Philippines it is SO offensive, you can be arrested. Locals use this gesture only towards animals, although we’ve never seen it used effectively.


We’ve seen it, we’ve done it and we all know what it means. All is perfect right? WRONG! Make a circle with your thumb and index finger to someone in Brazil or some Mediterranean countries, and you’re effectively calling them a part of the human anatomy. Not very pleasant and quite dangerous we think. Unless you meant it, and then you can suffer the consequences.


Now this is a sure way to start a fight. What is considered a sign of peace, victory and happiness in some countries, will have you involved in a pub brawl in the UK in two seconds flat; especially if your palm is facing inwards.

Rock on dude

The ‘horns’ hand gesture infamously connected to heavy metal music takes on a whole new meaning in Italy. There, believe it or not, they’ve made a connection between this hand gesture, and their partner’s fidelity, or lack thereof. Indeed, by giving someone the ‘horns’, you are actually telling them that their beloved is cheating on them. We really can’t imagine you having an opportunity to misuse this gesture while holidaying in Italy, but thought we’d better warn you anyway.

The finger

Now here’s one hand gesture you’ll never get wrong, as it means the same in every country in the world. Use it at your own risk.

Be a wise traveler and keep your hands in your pockets at all times while traveling. Before you venture, don’t forget to compare travel money rates at


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