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Usually we use thumb up to inform other drivers that we are hitchhiking. But in some cultures this gesture is highly offensive, so if you don't know it, you risk to be killed by furious driver you just insulted. You better read up on hitchhiking gestures first.

The hitchhiker's method of signaling to drivers differs around the world. In the U.S., as well as in Russia, one would point his or her thumb up, while in some places in South America one displays to an oncoming car the back of her hand with the index finger pointing up. In Poland, the most popular way of hitchhiking is to thumb up but also the hand can be held flat, and waved. In the Netherlands, however, this may indicate you're looking for gay sex. In India, the hand is waved with the palm facing downwards (or the U.S way). In Israel the hitchhiking signal is similar, often pointing downwards.

The thumbs up gesture across the world


"Thumbs up" traditionally translates as the foulest of gesticular insults in some Middle Eastern countries — the most straightforward interpretation is 'Up yours, pal!'. The sign has a similarly pejorative meaning in parts of West Africa, South America, Iran, Iraq, and Sardinia, according to Roger E. Axtell's book Gestures: The Do's and Taboos of Body Language Around the World."

In Bangladesh, Iran, and Thailand it is traditionally an obscene gesture, equivalent to the use of the middle finger in the Western world.

OK or good

In Italy, and Hungary in the right context, it can simply indicate the number one. Generally it is perceived as "OK".

In Russia and Finland the meaning of this expression is "awesome", "good", or "well done".

In the UK, specifically north-west England, a single handed thumbs up sign can be used as a farewell or greetings gesture between young males. In situations where acquaintances may see each other briefly and unexpectedly, but are unable to communicate otherwise (e.g. whilst driving past one another, or through a glass window) the thumbs up signifies a gesture of recognition. It is also often used as a replacement for a more traditional "wave" goodbye when parting from one another. A less common variation is the use of a brief two handed thumbs up gesture made close to the body.

In Australia, a thumbs-up is generally perceived as meaning "terrific". Australian Sign Language assigns this hand shape the meaning "good".

In the United States, American Sign Language users use this hand shape to indicate the number ten (10) when wiggled modestly left and right. When held stationary and thrust toward another person the meaning is "yourself". When lifted up by the other palm, the meaning is "help".

In Japanese sign language, the thumbs-up indicates a man, or male gender as opposed to an extended pinky indicating female.

In India, although the gesture is well accepted, similar gestures have negative connotations:

  • While doing a thumbs up, if the hand is wagged from side to side in a reverse-pendulum like movement, it means "won't work" or "disagree".
  • Another rude gesture among kids (now less popular), is to show the thumb to a person and say "thengaa," sometimes followed making a face, drawing the tongue out and touching the chin with it. It indicates cocking a snook at someone.
  • Showing your thumb to someone and calling him/her "angoothachaap"(thumb-print) implies that you are insulting him/her as an illiterate person.
  • Still, the acceptability of the "thumbs up" gesture is seen in the popular soda Thums Up.

In Egypt, Iraq and Israel, it means perfect or very good. It's widely common between people. This conflicts with page 29 of "Let's Go: Israel" published in 2003 by St. Martin's Press. The book indicates that any extension of the thumb is offensive in Israel

In the Philippines, Richard Gordon uses his gesture pose during his presidential campaign.

This article contains text from the Wikipedia article on Gestures.

This article contains text from the Wikipedia article on Gestures.