The Fascinating Origins Of Hand Gestures (10 pictures)

Gestures are a form of nonverbal communication in which visible bodily actions are used to communicate important messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body.

Gestures are culture-specific and can convey very different meanings in different social or cultural settings. Although some gestures, such as the ubiquitous act of pointing, differ little from one place to another, most gestures do not have invariable or universal meanings but connote specific meanings in particular cultures. A single emblematic gesture can have very different significance in different cultural contexts, ranging from complimentary to highly offensive. [via]

Certainly most of these gestures you use every day. Check out what they mean!

Source: all-that-is-interesting.com

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The (Middle) finger

Synonymous with various phrases revolving around a verb that begins with the letter F, the middle finger is one of the most universally recognized and reviled gestures in history.

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The (Middle) finger

Synonymous with various phrases revolving around a verb that begins with the letter F, the middle finger is one of the most universally recognized and reviled gestures in history. Made particularly popular by late 20th century rock and punk personalities as a sign of rebellion and anti-establishmentarianism, the finger today is used liberally by people of all ages.

The finger dates all the way back to ancient Greece when it was meant as an insult, suggesting that the recipient of the gesture would easily submit to anal intercourse. By the Roman era, the middle finger had garnered the superstitious trait of being indecent, and is seen in Roman literature as an act of ill-intention and tool of black magic.

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The (Middle) finger

Synonymous with various phrases revolving around a verb that begins with the letter F, the middle finger is one of the most universally recognized and reviled gestures in history. Made particularly popular by late 20th century rock and punk personalities as a sign of rebellion and anti-establishmentarianism, the finger today is used liberally by people of all ages.

The finger dates all the way back to ancient Greece when it was meant as an insult, suggesting that the recipient of the gesture would easily submit to anal intercourse. By the Roman era, the middle finger had garnered the superstitious trait of being indecent, and is seen in Roman literature as an act of ill-intention and tool of black magic.

A-OK

Another gesture that is innocuous in some countries and brutally offensive in others, the A-OK is hard to articulate because it means so many different things to so many different people. In

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A-OK

Another gesture that is innocuous in some countries and brutally offensive in others, the A-OK is hard to articulate because it means so many different things to so many different people. In countries where it is not impolite, the gesture means simply that everything is running smoothly. But the range of countries that take offense to the gesture almost necessitates that travelers remove it from their body language lexicon.

In Europe, the gesture is an insult to one’s value, the circle of the thumb and index indicating “you are a zero.” But in South America and the Middle East the hand is exponentially more inflammatory, replacing the declaration of one’s paltry self-worth with the phrase “you are the last sphincter of the GI tract,” and often carries with it a homosexual insult.

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A-OK

Another gesture that is innocuous in some countries and brutally offensive in others, the A-OK is hard to articulate because it means so many different things to so many different people. In countries where it is not impolite, the gesture means simply that everything is running smoothly. But the range of countries that take offense to the gesture almost necessitates that travelers remove it from their body language lexicon.

In Europe, the gesture is an insult to one’s value, the circle of the thumb and index indicating “you are a zero.” But in South America and the Middle East the hand is exponentially more inflammatory, replacing the declaration of one’s paltry self-worth with the phrase “you are the last sphincter of the GI tract,” and often carries with it a homosexual insult.

Peace Sign

Often called the V sign, what many know today as the peace sign was originally–and counterintuitively–a symbol of military victory. First, Winston Churchill famously brandished two V

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Peace Sign

Often called the V sign, what many know today as the peace sign was originally–and counterintuitively–a symbol of military victory. First, Winston Churchill famously brandished two V signs as he posed and paraded after defeating Nazi Germany. President Nixon infamously flashed the V sign when prematurely declaring victory in Vietnam, and Hippies parodically adopted it to promote pacifism. Since they would often say “peace” while flashing the sign, the gesture took on the name.

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Peace Sign

Often called the V sign, what many know today as the peace sign was originally–and counterintuitively–a symbol of military victory. First, Winston Churchill famously brandished two V signs as he posed and paraded after defeating Nazi Germany. President Nixon infamously flashed the V sign when prematurely declaring victory in Vietnam, and Hippies parodically adopted it to promote pacifism. Since they would often say “peace” while flashing the sign, the gesture took on the name.

Sign of the Horns

Much like the Dulya, there was a time when people used the Sign of the Horns to counteract the Evil Eye. Its use as protection against bad luck goes back for generations, and was

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Sign of the Horns

Much like the Dulya, there was a time when people used the Sign of the Horns to counteract the Evil Eye. Its use as protection against bad luck goes back for generations, and was famously skewered when Italian President Giovani Leone made the sign with his hands as he greeted cholera patients. Strangely, the same gesture implies that one has been cuckolded, the hand symbolizing a castrated bull, which was also famously documented when Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made the gesture behind a foreign minister.

In America, the symbol has a strong connection to several sports teams with demonic and bovine mascots. But several centuries earlier in the Middle Ages, the Sign of the Horns was strongly associated with Satan in Islamic and Christian cultures. Heavy metal acts like Black Sabbath began to appropriate the gesture, looking to capitalize on anti-establishment sentiments within the metal community. However, its use in the music scene truly began with the psychedelic act known as Coven, and was even used by the Beatles, Frank Zappa, and Parliament-Funkadelic.

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Sign of the Horns

Much like the Dulya, there was a time when people used the Sign of the Horns to counteract the Evil Eye. Its use as protection against bad luck goes back for generations, and was famously skewered when Italian President Giovani Leone made the sign with his hands as he greeted cholera patients. Strangely, the same gesture implies that one has been cuckolded, the hand symbolizing a castrated bull, which was also famously documented when Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made the gesture behind a foreign minister.

In America, the symbol has a strong connection to several sports teams with demonic and bovine mascots. But several centuries earlier in the Middle Ages, the Sign of the Horns was strongly associated with Satan in Islamic and Christian cultures. Heavy metal acts like Black Sabbath began to appropriate the gesture, looking to capitalize on anti-establishment sentiments within the metal community. However, its use in the music scene truly began with the psychedelic act known as Coven, and was even used by the Beatles, Frank Zappa, and Parliament-Funkadelic.

Hand Shaking

Archeological evidence has found several artifacts in Greece that depict handshaking as far back as 500BCE. It is believed to be a show of non-aggression, literally that you bear no arms

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Hand Shaking

Archeological evidence has found several artifacts in Greece that depict handshaking as far back as 500BCE. It is believed to be a show of non-aggression, literally that you bear no arms against the person with whom you are shaking hands. That’s why you shake with your right hand, the hand with which you would have held your sword.

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Hand Shaking

Archeological evidence has found several artifacts in Greece that depict handshaking as far back as 500BCE. It is believed to be a show of non-aggression, literally that you bear no arms against the person with whom you are shaking hands. That’s why you shake with your right hand, the hand with which you would have held your sword.

The High Five

The high five’s origin is an extraordinarily contentious issue, given its association with camaraderie and celebration. The low five had long been used between black Americans and

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The High Five

The high five’s origin is an extraordinarily contentious issue, given its association with camaraderie and celebration. The low five had long been used between black Americans and became popular during the Jazz Age as a response to “slap me some skin.” However, the cultural phenomenon known as the “high five” was not actually in print until 1980!

The most popular story of the high five’s genesis is attributed to flash-in-the-pan rookie sensation Glenn Burke, who was photographed instigating the action to another player in 1977. Nevertheless, the 1978 Louisville Cardinals basketball team also claimed credit, saying that they were frequent low fivers but in a moment of spontaneous inspiration a trendsetting player held his hand up for a high five instead. By 1980, everybody from Magic Johnson to people who hadn’t played sports since high school were claiming credit for the ubiquitous palm slap. In reality, they’re really just fighting for the title of “high five,” since the gesture is likely to have naturally evolved from the low fives of the Jazz Age.

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The High Five

The high five’s origin is an extraordinarily contentious issue, given its association with camaraderie and celebration. The low five had long been used between black Americans and became popular during the Jazz Age as a response to “slap me some skin.” However, the cultural phenomenon known as the “high five” was not actually in print until 1980!

The most popular story of the high five’s genesis is attributed to flash-in-the-pan rookie sensation Glenn Burke, who was photographed instigating the action to another player in 1977. Nevertheless, the 1978 Louisville Cardinals basketball team also claimed credit, saying that they were frequent low fivers but in a moment of spontaneous inspiration a trendsetting player held his hand up for a high five instead. By 1980, everybody from Magic Johnson to people who hadn’t played sports since high school were claiming credit for the ubiquitous palm slap. In reality, they’re really just fighting for the title of “high five,” since the gesture is likely to have naturally evolved from the low fives of the Jazz Age.

Vulcan Salute

The Vulcan Salute has the notable distinction of being the only gesture on this list that some people flat-out cannot do without help. It may technically be made up, but the Vulcan

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Vulcan Salute

The Vulcan Salute has the notable distinction of being the only gesture on this list that some people flat-out cannot do without help. It may technically be made up, but the Vulcan salute is as recognizable across the globe as any other gesture on this list. When Leonard Nemoy was cast as Spock, he wanted to develop a visual accompaniment to the mantra of his character’s species, “Live long and prosper.” Nemoy, who was born into a practicing Jewish family, borrowed the gesture from the orthodox priests performing a blessing.

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Vulcan Salute

The Vulcan Salute has the notable distinction of being the only gesture on this list that some people flat-out cannot do without help. It may technically be made up, but the Vulcan salute is as recognizable across the globe as any other gesture on this list. When Leonard Nemoy was cast as Spock, he wanted to develop a visual accompaniment to the mantra of his character’s species, “Live long and prosper.” Nemoy, who was born into a practicing Jewish family, borrowed the gesture from the orthodox priests performing a blessing.

Bras d’honneur

It has many names across the world, the banana, the umbrella, the sleeve-cut, but its meaning is graphically clear: “Shove it as far as your arm can reach.” Chances are you’ve

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Bras d’honneur

It has many names across the world, the banana, the umbrella, the sleeve-cut, but its meaning is graphically clear: “Shove it as far as your arm can reach.” Chances are you’ve known this gesture for years and have even thrown it a few times without being aware of it. French for “arm of honor” (they give The Finger the same distinction), its origin also dates back to the 100 Years War, used by the French to intimidate their hated English rivals.

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Bras d’honneur

It has many names across the world, the banana, the umbrella, the sleeve-cut, but its meaning is graphically clear: “Shove it as far as your arm can reach.” Chances are you’ve known this gesture for years and have even thrown it a few times without being aware of it. French for “arm of honor” (they give The Finger the same distinction), its origin also dates back to the 100 Years War, used by the French to intimidate their hated English rivals.

Dulya/Fig Hand

In Slavic countries, clasping the thumb between the index and middle fingers is known as the Dulya, or fig. Bearing resemblance to a fig, common slang for the genitals of both sexes,

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Dulya/Fig Hand

In Slavic countries, clasping the thumb between the index and middle fingers is known as the Dulya, or fig. Bearing resemblance to a fig, common slang for the genitals of both sexes, the Dulya has lost much of its luster over time. In Turkey, however, it is used to reject an offer with contempt, and is considered extremely offensive.

Russian internet jargon uses the gesture to refer to Ctrl-Alt-Delete, since the prompt is usually only summoned when the user is frustrated with the computer. In Western countries, gregarious uncles brandish this fist in front of infants in a simple game called “I’ve got your nose.” In more superstitious years, the gesture was one of many used to ward off the Evil Eye.

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Dulya/Fig Hand

In Slavic countries, clasping the thumb between the index and middle fingers is known as the Dulya, or fig. Bearing resemblance to a fig, common slang for the genitals of both sexes, the Dulya has lost much of its luster over time. In Turkey, however, it is used to reject an offer with contempt, and is considered extremely offensive.

Russian internet jargon uses the gesture to refer to Ctrl-Alt-Delete, since the prompt is usually only summoned when the user is frustrated with the computer. In Western countries, gregarious uncles brandish this fist in front of infants in a simple game called “I’ve got your nose.” In more superstitious years, the gesture was one of many used to ward off the Evil Eye.

Bowing

Bowing is about as ancient as human civilization, and in every different culture the movement is capable of great nuance in terms of angle and duration. Our best guess is that the bow as we SHOW MORE

Bowing

Bowing is about as ancient as human civilization, and in every different culture the movement is capable of great nuance in terms of angle and duration. Our best guess is that the bow as we know it today began as a show of servility by a slave to his master, kneeling with the neck exposed as if allowing decapitation at the master’s will. Religious ceremonies across the world also incorporate deep bowing as a show of deference, particularly to divine symbols and holy men. On the street, the deference became common respect as a greetings and shows of gratitude. Today, the old show of suicidal submission has taken a less severe tone in the form of an everyday polite nod, but the many levels of action and meaning continue to this day. LESS

Bowing

Bowing is about as ancient as human civilization, and in every different culture the movement is capable of great nuance in terms of angle and duration. Our best guess is that the bow as we know it today began as a show of servility by a slave to his master, kneeling with the neck exposed as if allowing decapitation at the master’s will. Religious ceremonies across the world also incorporate deep bowing as a show of deference, particularly to divine symbols and holy men. On the street, the deference became common respect as a greetings and shows of gratitude. Today, the old show of suicidal submission has taken a less severe tone in the form of an everyday polite nod, but the many levels of action and meaning continue to this day.

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