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Hand Gestures in the World With Two Meanings Or More Than One Meaning

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Peace Sign, V for Victory, Or Fighting Words and Hideous Insult
Peace Sign, V for Victory, or Piece o' This, Mutha

Peace Sign, V for Victory, or Piece o' This, Mutha

© Creative Commons; upper inset © Justin Lambert / Getty Images
The peace sign seems so universal to us Americans, doesn't it? Peace out, man... easy does it.. it's all good. Yeah, except when it's not. The two fingers held aloft in a V are fine provided your palm is facing out, but in some countries -- namely, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom -- it's an insult of the first order if you make the same gesture but with your palm facing inward. Meaning you don't order two beers in an English pub by holding up two fingers with your palm facing you unless you want to get in a bit of a brawl. And to some (mostly to older generations), two fingers held up with palm facing out means V for victory -- hard to insult anyone with that sentiment, but you may find yourself rather misunderstood.

 

Bottom line: don't worry about accidentally insulting your hosts in a foreign country with some inadvertent rudeness. Be friendly, be polite -- they'll know you didn't really mean to imply anything about sticking anything anywhere with some casually thoughtless and simple gesture. Especially if it's accompanied by a genuine smile.

 

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