Thursday, 30 July 2015

A must-have travel guide

Going on holiday? Courtesy of the Telegraph, here's an invaluable guide to insulting the locals - without even having to move away from the bar!

1 Chin Flick
Meaning: Get lost
Used in: Belgium, France, Northern Italy, Tunisia
In France, this gesture is known as la barbe, or “the beard", the idea being that the gesturer is flashing his masculinity in much the same way that a buck will brandish his horns or a cock his comb. Simply brush the hand under the chin in a forward flicking motion. While not as aggressive as flashing one’s actual genitalia, this gesture is legal and remains effective as a mildly insulting brush-off.
Note: In Italy, this gesture simply means “No.”

2 Idiota
Meaning: Are you an idiot?
Used in: Brazil
A South American gesture indicating stupidity, this requires improv skills and an actorly flair. To perform, put your fist to your forehead while making a comical overbite. The gesture is most effective when accented with multiple grunts. When executed correctly, you will be rewarded with appreciative laughs, though not, perhaps, from your subject.

3 Moutza
Meaning: To hell with you!/I rub shit in your face!/I'm going to violate your sister!
Used in: Greece, Africa, Pakistan
The Moutza is among the most complex of hand gestures, as elaborate and ancient as a Japanese tea ceremony. Perhaps the oldest offensive hand signal still in use, the Moutza originated in ancient Byzantium, where it was the custom for criminals to be chained to a donkey and displayed on the street. There, local townsfolk might add to their humiliation by rubbing dirt, faeces, and ashes ("moutzos" in medieval Greek) into their faces. Now that the advent of modern sewage systems and anti-smoking laws means that these materials are no longer readily available, the Moutza is a symbolic stand-in. In Greece, it is often accompanied by commands including par’ta (“take these”) or órse (“there you go”). Over the years, the versatile Moutza has acquired more connotations, including a sexual one, in which the five extended fingers suggest the five sexual acts the gesturer would like to perform with the subject’s willing sister.

4 Five fathers
Meaning: You have five fathers, i.e., your mother is a whore
Used in: Arab countries, Caribbean
If you are looking to get yourself deported from Saudi Arabia – possibly amid a riot – you can do no better than the Five Fathers gesture. The most inflammatory hand gesture in the Arab world, this sign accuses the subject’s mother of having so many suitors that paternity is impossible to determine. To execute, point your left index finger at your right hand, while pursing all fingers of the right hand together. The insult is extreme and almost certain to provoke violence.

5 Corna
Meaning: Your wife is unfaithful
Used in: The Baltics, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Portugal, Spain
Informing a friend that his wife has been unfaithful is an unhappy and delicate task. Fortunately, in many countries, it is simple to do: one simply gives him the Corna. A very old sign, the Corna dates back at least 2,500 years and represents a bull’s horns (bulls were commonly castrated to make them calmer).
Be warned that while the gesture is used throughout the world, its meaning varies greatly from country to country. Should you be on the receiving end of the gesture, before you cast out your wife, remember that your pal may simply be saying she is a fan of American college football or heavy metal bands.

6 Write-off
Meaning: I am ignoring you
Used in: Greece
The literal translation of st’arxidia mou, the phrase that accompanies this gesture, is “I write it on my testicles.” And while there may well be people who, out of a strange psychological compulsion or simply boredom, actually write on their testicles, here the threat is simply metaphorical and tells the subject you’re ignoring him. One needn’t possess testicles to use the gesture, which is employed by men and women alike.

7 Cutis
Meaning: Screw you and your whole family
Used in: India, Pakistan
Should you find yourself in India or Pakistan, wishing to insult not just your host but your host’s entire family, look no further than the Cutis gesture. Its origins are unknown, but its effect is swift and severe. Simply make a fist then flick the thumb off the front teeth while exclaiming "cutta!" (“Screw you!”). In short order, you will find himself ejected from the premises, your mission to offend thoroughly accomplished.

Taken from Rude Hand Gestures of the World, a guide to offending without words by Romana LeFevre.

An invaluable read, methinks.


  1. when we went to brasil, i was warned not to do the "a-ok" sign with my thumb & middle finger. i forget what it was supposed to mean, but it was supposedly horrid.

    a sign i never, ever made, all i wanted to do is an "a-ok" to whoever spoke to me.

    1. Allegedly, in France it's supposed to mean that something (or someone) is worthless ("a zero"), but I was unaware it was rude elsewhere...

      Next time I meet a Brazilian I'll try it. Jx


Please leave a message - I value your comments!