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Hand Finger Gestures With Meanings

What is a Hand Finger Gesture?

Hand finger gestures are common nonverbal ways of communication that people use to express themselves.

Whether it’s a simple thumbs up or the complex gestures used in sign language, hand gestures have been a part of human communication for thousands of years.

Some gestures are positive, indicating peace or love, while others are negative, signaling insults or obscenities.

This article will explore some of the most popular hand finger gestures popular today, providing insights into their meanings and significance.

One-Handed Finger Gestures

One-handed finger gestures can be a powerful tool for communication, allowing for quick and subtle ways to convey a message. From the trafficking signal to the scout salute, these gestures are used in various contexts and cultures.

1. Trafficking Hand Gesture

The Trafficking Hand Gesture depicts a covert message used as a signal for help.

This particular hand gesture involves raising the hand, keeping the fingers together, and then folding the fingers over and around the thumb, trapping it inside the hand. This gesture symbolizes someone who is being trafficked, trapped, abused, hurt, or confined against their will, making it a silent cry for help.

The Signal for Help has been seen on TikTok and used by non-profit organizations such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation to educate people about this hand signal’s power.

In case of an emergency, this gesture allows an individual to discreetly communicate their distress to anyone who may recognize the gesture’s significance, including law enforcement officers. For instance, if someone shows you the Trafficking Hand Gesture, it indicates that they are in dire need of help, and it’s crucial to take prompt action.

Gilbert Acciardo of the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office says that this hand gesture saved the life of a 16-year-old girl who had been kidnapped. “Had that not been transmitted by the young lady, had there not been someone out there who knew how to interpret what she was doing, then who knows? We might not have had a good resolution on this.”

Watch the video here:

So, if you ever witness someone subtly demonstrating the Signal for Help, you must take action immediately. Calling 911 in life-threatening situations is the best course of action one can take. 

2. The Hand Purse

A hand purse can be formed when the fingertips are all brought together on one hand and the palm is turned upwards. It can also involve an up-and-down motion.

This hand gesture is widely known in Italy and can have several different meanings depending on how you use it.

If the hand is far away from your face and lowered down, it can mean“What do you want/What are you talking about?”

If the hand is in front of your face and you are gesturing it with fingers pointing at your mouth, it can signal “Let’s go to eat.”

If the hand doesn’t move, but the fingertips are opened and closed repetitively it could signal “Are you shitting in your pants (as in “Are you scared)?”

Hand purse gesture

Depending on where you live, a purse can also mean different things.

  • In Greece and Turkey, it can mean “Good.”
  • In Spain, it indicates “Lots of” something.
  • In Malta, it implies heavy sarcasm.
  • In Tunisia, it indicates caution, as in to take things slowly.
  • In France and Belgium, it can mean “I am afraid.”
  • In Italy, it can be used when a person you’re talking to says something silly or asks you to do something stupid or dangerous. “What are you talking about?” “Are you serious?”

🤓 You might also like to explore these Mean Insults Without Cursing

3. The Money Pincher

Similar to the purse gesture but involving the thumb rubbing the fingertips. Imagine rubbing a coin between your thumb and fingertips.

Often called the “Pay Me” gesture, the money gesture is demonstrated by repeatedly rubbing one’s thumb over the index finger and middle fingertips.

The Money Pincher – ‘Pay Me’ Gesture

4. The Sand Pinch

The Sand Pinch is a hand gesture that involves forming a circle with the thumb and index finger while keeping the remaining three fingers extended, with your palm facing down.

In a Western context, the Sand Pinch is commonly used to emphasize an important point. This gesture has a powerful effect on the audience when used strategically during impactful speeches.

Former US President Bill Clinton, for instance, is known for frequently using this gesture while addressing an audience. He makes the Sand Pinch when he is about to make a critical point. The audience’s focus shifts entirely to the speaker, waiting for what he intends to reveal or highlight.

5. Please Give It!

The “Please give it!” gesture is a commonly used hand gesture that is a simple way of asking for something. It involves holding an open palm facing upwards and moving the fingers in a beckoning motion while saying “please give it!” or just “please!” It is a polite and non-threatening way of making a request of someone.

‘Please Give It!’ Hand Gesture

However, the interpretation and use of this gesture can vary among different cultures. In some cultures, such as some Asian cultures, it can be considered rude or aggressive, and the palm-up gesture motion can be seen as demanding or even offensive.

In different cultural contexts, this gesture can lead to serious consequences if misinterpreted. When traveling, an innocent gesture may be perceived as rude or aggressive, resulting in misunderstandings and possibly dangerous situations.

To prevent unintended offense, it’s crucial to learn about the different variations of the gesture and the cultural norms surrounding it. Cultural appropriateness varies, such as in Japan, where a full-arm beckon is impolite, and a hand wave with the palm down is more appropriate. In many African countries, a double-arm beckon can be seen as an invitation to fight and should be avoided.

6. Hook ’em Horns

The “Hook ‘Em Horns” hand signal is a well-known gesture that represents fun and positivity, often used at concerts as well as by Texas Longhorns fans.

To make the sign, extend the index and pinkie fingers while grasping the second and third fingers with the thumb. 

Hook em Horns

However, this hand signal has sometimes caused controversy in Latin America due to its interpretation as a way of telling someone their spouse is cheating on them. This misunderstanding has led to international backlash and has caused some people to shy away from using the gesture.

When used as an Italian gesture it is similar to ‘fingers crossed’. This superstitious gesture is used to drive away bad luck.

Despite this controversy, it is important to note that the “Hook ‘Em Horns” gesture can also have a positive connotation. If performed with the thumb sticking outward, it can represent “I love you” and is a widely recognized symbol of affection.

7. ‘Loser’ Sign

The Loser Sign is a hand finger gesture made by forming an “L” shape with the thumb and index finger and holding it to the forehead. This gesture is commonly used to signify that someone is a loser or has lost a competition, game, or argument.

‘Loser’ Sign

The cultural origins of the Loser Sign are rooted in Western cultures, particularly in North America, where it is commonly used among friends in a playful manner. However, it is essential to be aware that this gesture may not be understood or well-received in other cultures, and it may be interpreted as an offensive or insulting gesture.

📢 If you’re wondering what your teen is signing then you should have a look at this list of teen hand signs meanings.

8. Fingers Crossed

The fingers crossed gesture is a common hand sign widely recognized as a sign of good luck, hope, and optimism. It involves crossing one’s index and middle finger to form an “X” shape and is usually accompanied by a verbal expression of hope or a wish for good luck.

Fingers Crossed for Good Luck finger gesture

The origins of this gesture can be traced back to an ancient pagan custom. In pre-Christian Europe, people believed that making a cross sign over oneself or on an object could protect them from evil spirits. Later, this custom evolved within the Christian Church when believers made a cross sign on their bodies to protect themselves from evil. The fingers crossed gesture is thought to be an extension of this practice, and it eventually became an independent sign of protection and good luck.

However, in Vietnam, the gesture can be interpreted as a vulgar gesture that references a part of the female anatomy, and its usage is considered offensive.

Common phrases associated with the fingers-crossed gesture include “keep your fingers crossed” and “cross your fingers for good luck.” 

9. Bunny Ears

The Bunny ears hand gesture is a playful and lighthearted gesture that involves making two fingers appear like rabbit ears above someone’s head. While it may seem like a modern trend to photobomb pictures with this gesture, its origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages in Europe.

‘Bunny Ears’ Finger Gesture

During the Middle Ages, this hand gesture was not used for playful purposes. Instead, it was used to shame men whose wives were unfaithful. If a man’s wife was caught cheating, he was publicly humiliated by having bunny ears held up behind his head. This gesture was meant to symbolize the man’s weakness and his inability to control his wife’s actions.

As time went on, bunny ears continued to be used as a common insult, particularly in Western cultures. It was seen as a way to mock and ridicule someone, especially when they were not looking.

However, in recent years, bunny ears have transformed into a popular photobombing gesture. It is now seen as a playful way to show off one’s comedic side in photos and has become a staple in social media culture. In fact, even public figures have been known to use this gesture as a way to connect with their fans. For example, former US President Barack Obama playfully gave bunny ears to a group of children during a White House event.

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10. ‘Be Quiet’ Gesture

The “Be Quiet” Gesture, also known as the “Silence Gesture,” is a simple yet effective way to convey the message of being quiet to someone. To perform this gesture, simply place your index finger on your lips and say “shhh” in a soft tone.

This universal gesture is easily understandable for English speakers, making it a go-to option for many people. It is a useful gesture in situations where you want someone to stop talking or make no noise, such as in a library, a movie theatre, or a classroom during an exam.

‘Be Quiet’ Gesture

11. The ‘Phew’ Gesture

The “Phew” Gesture is a universal hand gesture that involves wiping imaginary sweat from the forehead with your hand. This gesture is commonly used to express relief after having averted a dangerous or tense situation. It is a quick and simple way to acknowledge the stress or anxiety that you may have felt during the situation and to let out a sigh of relief afterward.

To perform this gesture, take your hand to your forehead and make a wiping motion as if you were wiping away sweat. This can be done with either hand and can be accompanied by a vocalization of “phew” to emphasize your sense of relief.

The ‘Phew’ Gesture

The “Phew” Gesture can be used in a variety of situations, such as after completing a difficult task or after narrowly avoiding a collision while driving. By using this gesture, you can quickly and easily convey your sense of relief to those around you.

12. The ‘Calm Down’ Gesture

The “Calm Down” Gesture is a simple but effective way to communicate a message non-verbally when the other person is overreacting. To execute this gesture, simply push your hands down in front of your chest, palm facing downward, multiple times to suggest that the other person needs to calm down and relax.

This gesture is especially useful in high-stress situations where emotions can quickly escalate. When someone is overreacting and losing their temper, it can be challenging to communicate with words effectively. Sometimes, words may even make the situation worse. In such cases, the “Calm Down” Gesture offers an alternative mode of communication.

The ‘Calm Down’ Gesture

13. ‘Blah Blah’ Hand Gesture

One of the most common hand gestures used to signal disinterest is the blah blah or sock puppet gesture. The fingers are kept straight and together, held horizontally or upwards and bending at the lowest knuckles, while the thumb points downwards. The fingers and thumb then snap together repeatedly to suggest a mouth talking.

You can use this gesture to indicate that someone talks too much, gossips, says nothing of consequence or is boring when they talk.

The gesture can be simply described as “shut it,” which the Online Slang Dictionary defines as “stop talking.”

In the Austin Powers movies, Dr. Evil hilariously used this gesture to get his son, Scott Evil, to stop talking:

14. Two-Finger Salute

The Two-Finger Salute is a gesture where the index and middle fingers are raised while the remaining fingers are folded down into the palm. This hand gesture has different meanings and cultural significance depending on the place where it is used.

The Polish Armed Forces and other uniformed services in Poland. A two-finger salute is also used by many Cub Scout sections. The salute was originally designed by Robert Baden-Powell as a representation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and originally represented the ears of a wolf cub. However, Cub Scouts in several national associations now salute with three fingers as does the rest of the Scout Movement.

The two-fingered salute also has an obscene meaning if used as an inverted V sign. 

📢 For more obscene gestures you can read Sexual Hand Gestures Meaning With Pictures

In some countries, such as Britain, the Two-Finger Salute is considered an offensive gesture. This obscene gesture is often used as a sign of disrespect or defiance, similar to the middle finger. This rude gesture may resemble an inverted peace sign, which can cause confusion for some people. Even Winston Churchill accidentally used the V sign with his palm facing inwards during WW2.

It’s important to be aware that some finger hand gestures can have a completely different meaning in other countries. For example, a thumbs-up gesture means “up yours” in Islamic countries. The same as the middle finger in Western countries. 

15. Scout Three Finger Salute

The Scout Salute is a hand gesture that holds significant cultural and historical importance in the scouting movement. This gesture is often used as a sign of respect and recognition among scouts.

The Scout Salute or secret sign involves extending the right hand raised level with his shoulder, palm to the front, thumb resting on the nail of the little finger, and the other three fingers upright, pointing upwards. 

Scout Three Finger Salute

The origins of the Scout Salute can be traced back to the Boer War when soldiers used a similar gesture as a sign of respect and non-aggression towards each other. This gesture made an impact on Robert Baden-Powell, who later founded the scouting movement. Baden-Powell believed that scouts should display discipline, honor, and respect, and thus the Scout Salute was adopted as an important symbol in the scouting movement.

The Scout Salute has since become a well-known and recognized symbol throughout the world. By using this hand gesture, scouts are showing their adherence to the values and principles of the scouting movement.

Two Handed Finger Gestures

Hand gestures have been used for centuries to convey a variety of meanings and emotions. In some cases, these gestures are universally recognized, while in other cases they may only be recognized within certain cultures or communities.

Two-handed finger gestures, in particular, can be particularly expressive and are often used to convey messages that may be difficult to express in words. From the playful “Awkward Turtle” to the solemn “Merkel Diamond,” the following are some of the most popular two-handed finger gestures and their meanings.

Whether you’re looking to express joy, awkwardness, or frustration, these gestures can help you communicate your emotions more effectively.

16. ‘Please, no!’ Gesture

The hand gesture known as “Please, no!” is a powerful nonverbal communication that can convey a multitude of emotions, including fear and discomfort. This gesture involves clasping the hands together, with fingers interlocked and palms pressed tightly together, while the hands are held in front of the body, typically at chest level. The fingers may be knotted together, with the thumbs pressing against each other, or one hand may be wrapped around the other with the fingers and thumbs interlocking.

‘Please, no!’ Gesture

While this gesture can be used to signify being cold, it is more commonly used to communicate negative emotions. It can suggest a sense of unease or discomfort, indicating that something is troubling the person making the gesture. In some cases, this gesture can signal a plea for help or a desire to escape a situation or conversation.

This hand gesture can be used in a variety of situations. For example, if someone is in an uncomfortable or unpleasant setting or conversation, they may resort to using the “Please, no!” gesture in an effort to get the other person to stop. In other cases, people might use this gesture to indicate fear or apprehension about something that is about to happen.

17. The ‘Getting Along’ Finger Gesture

The “Getting Along Gesture” involves tapping the index fingers of both hands together twice to symbolize two people or things that get along very well. This hand gesture is widely recognized around the world as a positive symbol of harmony and compatibility. It can be used in both professional and social settings to convey a message of agreement and understanding.

The ‘Getting Along’ Finger Gesture

This hand gesture can be effectively used in a variety of situations. For example, if two colleagues have just come to an agreement on a project, they can celebrate their successful collaboration with the “Getting Along Gesture.” If two friends are discussing a topic that they both feel passionate about and are in agreement on, they can use this gesture to further emphasize their compatibility.

The “Getting Along Gesture” can also be used to defuse a tense situation and help bring about a more positive outcome. For instance, if two individuals are having a heated discussion, using this gesture can help convey a message of understanding and willingness to work together towards a solution.

18. “Air Quotes”

“Air Quotes” is a hands gesture used to emphasize the sarcasm or looseness of a word or phrase. To make air quotes, the index, and middle fingers on both hands are formed into quotation marks in the air around the word or phrase being spoken. This gesture is commonly used in comedic situations or when the speaker wants to make sure that their message is not misinterpreted.

Air quotes are often used to show disbelief or that something is questionable. For example, if someone says, “I have the best job in the world,” air quotes around “best” would indicate that they don’t really mean “best,” but are using the word loosely or sarcastically.

“Air Quotes”

In addition to indicating sarcasm or looseness, air quotes can also be used to imply a certain level of disbelief or skepticism. For instance, if someone says, “I’m sure that’s true,” air quotes around “sure” could suggest that the speaker is not actually convinced of the statement’s veracity.

19. Awkward Turtle

If you’ve ever found yourself in an uncomfortable situation and didn’t know what to do or say, you might have seen the Awkward Turtle hand gesture being used. This gesture involves placing one hand flat on top of the other and then moving your thumbs in a circular motion, representing an awkward struggle to escape from a situation.

Awkward Turtle
Image source: Tenor

The Awkward Turtle gesture has become a universal symbol of tension relief and is a playful way to acknowledge when something uncomfortable has happened. This hand gesture is used to break the ice in awkward situations, like when someone stumbles during a presentation or when a joke falls flat. It offers a way to recognize and alleviate any tension that may exist.

It’s not exactly clear where the Awkward Turtle hand gesture originated from but it has grown in popularity over time. The gesture has been used for decades and can be found in a variety of cultures. It has evolved into a symbol of camaraderie and support, offering a way for people to connect with each other when things get uncomfortable.

The beauty of this gesture is that it’s not offensive or negative in any way. It’s a simple, friendly gesture that can help to diffuse any tense situation. So, the next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, try using the Awkward Turtle hand gesture to acknowledge that things didn’t go as planned and to lighten the mood.

20. The Dab

The Dab is a popular gesture that involves dropping your head into the crook of one arm while simultaneously lifting the other arm up and out at an angle. This gesture originated in hip-hop culture and gained widespread popularity due to its adoption by prominent athletes and celebrities. By 2015, it had become a mainstream trend.

The Dab

The Dab hand gesture is often used to celebrate a victory or to show off some style. It can be performed with one or both hands, depending on your preference. The motion of the gesture is swift and adds an extra edge to any celebration or expression of excitement.

21. Hand Heart

The Hand Heart gesture has a deep cultural significance in Korean culture and is often used to express love and gratitude. It involves creating a heart shape with one’s hands by placing only the wrist and fingertips together and moving the palms apart. 

Hand Heart Finger Gesture

The Hand Heart gesture has become extremely popular in Korea and has been widely adopted in Korean dramas, K-pop culture, and social media. There are different variations of this Korean hand gesture, with the couple’s version being one of the most popular. This version involves two people creating a heart shape by joining their hands together, which represents their love and affection for each other.

Hand Heart Gesture

In Korean entertainment, the Hand Heart gesture is also commonly used as a way of expressing support for one’s favorite K-pop star or group. It has become a popular trend for fans to create their own versions of these positive gestures and share them on social media or during concerts.

Another closely related gesture to the Hand Heart is the Finger Heart gesture, which involves crossing the thumb and index finger to form a heart shape. The Finger Heart gesture has its own cultural significance in Korea and is often used to show love and support for family and friends. It has also become a popular trend among K-pop stars who frequently incorporate it into their performances.

Watch this hilarious video with BTS schooling Stephen Colbert with the latest Korean finger gestures:

22. Merkel Diamond

The Merkel Diamond hand gesture is a variation of the steeple hand gesture that has gained popularity due to its frequent use by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The gesture involves bringing the hands together in a diamond-like shape, with the thumbs and index fingers touching while keeping the other fingers extended and apart.

Merkel Diamond

The Merkel Diamond is said to convey a sense of determination and resoluteness, which can be beneficial in a variety of situations.

Experts in body language have noted that the Merkel Diamond gesture is a powerful signal of confidence and self-assurance. This may be due to the fact that the pose dominantly positions the hands in the center of the body, a position thought to project a sense of authority.

Overall, the Merkel Diamond gesture is a simple yet effective way to communicate power and conviction. Its use by Angela Merkel has made it a well-known symbol of her leadership style and personality. If you want to appear more determined or resolute in high-stress situations, consider adopting this pose to convey your message effectively.

23. Shame

Have you ever seen someone make the hand gesture for shame? It’s a common gesture where someone will put their hand, palm open and facing down, to their forehead, with their fingers touching or lightly pressed against the skin. They’ll then drag their hand down their face as if to symbolize that they feel ashamed, embarrassed, or remorseful.

Shame Hand Gesture

Although not necessarily a negative gesture, this gesture has a different meaning across various cultures. In some cultures, it signifies disappointment or frustration. Whereas in others, it represents that someone should feel ashamed of their actions or behavior. Shame is a universal feeling that is experienced by people across cultures, and this hand gesture is a way to communicate that emotion non-verbally.

24. T-Sign

The T-Sign, also known as the “Time Out” sign is used to call a time out. 

It is made by holding one hand vertically and tapping the fingertips of the other hand horizontally such that the two hands resemble a T.

T-Sign for ‘Time Out’

In a variant, the forearms replace the hands. Many sports use it to request a timeout; in cricket, players use it to request an umpire review.

25. Victory Clasp

The Victory Clasp is a simple yet powerful hand gesture that signifies victory, success, agreement, and acceptance. Making this gesture is easy to do and can convey a positive message with just your hands.

To make the Victory Clasp, start by clasping your hands together in front of your chest. Your thumbs should be pointing up towards your chin. It’s essential to make sure your hands are interlocked so that your fingers are tightly pressed against each other.

After interlocking your fingers, twist your hands slightly so that your palms are facing outward. This step is crucial because it gives the gesture a distinct look, making it easy for others to recognize the Victory Clasp.

Victory Clasp

The Victory Clasp is a great way to celebrate an accomplishment or show appreciation for a job well done. You can also use it as a sign of agreement or acceptance, making it an ideal gesture to use in business settings or negotiations.

26. Whatever

The ‘Whatever’ finger gesture is made with the thumb and forefinger of both hands to form the letter “W.”

The gesture is used to indicate that something is not worth the effort and time. It was made popular by the movie Clueless.

Although, my teen told me that sometime they will also use it to say ‘Winner’. Just like you can use the ‘L’ for ‘loser’, you can use the ‘W’ for ‘winner’. It will depend on the situation, but could be confusing.