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Middle Finger in Different Countries 2024

Pointing the middle finger at someone is regarded as rude and downright disrespectful in the United States. However, not all countries perceive this hand gesture as such. In some countries in the Middle East and Europe, it’s customary to point the middle finger at another person. Here’s what the hand gesture means in different countries:


The middle finger is a brotherly gesture in Japan. When used in the context of Japanese Sign Language, it’s translated as ‘ani’ to mean older brother. Sometimes the Japanese alternate two middle fingers in the air to mean siblings. In sign language, it’s translated as ‘kyoudai.’ The translation originates from a Japanese practice of assigning family names to all the fingers:

  • The thumb — the father
  • The index finger — the mother
  • The middle finger — the brother
  • The ring finger — the sister
  • The little finger — the baby sibling


Germany takes things a little far when it comes to the middle finger. It’s regarded as an insult punishable by the law. Under German’s insult law, using curse words and insulting gestures like the middle finger and sticking out the tongue is illegal.

The gesture is known as flipping someone off and is a phallic symbol used in the past to belittle and insult somebody. If found using this hand gesture and are incredibly aggressive, you could attract a fine of 600-4000 euros.


Extending the middle finger is a rude gesture in China. The Chinese see it as a sign of boredom and disrespect because they use one finger when pointing at animals. However, the context of using this gesture can define its meaning.

If defining it in a religious context, extending the middle finger isn’t offensive; rather, religious people use it when meditating. Similarly, in Chinese Philosophy, the middle finger symbolizes prosperity, while in Medicine, it represents the body’s neck, head, and trunk.


The French also find the middle finger gesture offensive. It’s called le majeur in French, but natives use the more offensive Latin phrase le doigt d’honneur when hurling insults. Two theories explain its origin.

The widely publicized one explains that English soldiers used the middle finger to mock the French after being defeated in battle. French historians disagree with the myth saying its roots can be traced to ancient Rome. Romans used the middle finger to denote a sexual threat to the person it’s directed.


Surprisingly the Russians use the middle finger to point at someone and emphasize a matter. Russians use the gesture, oblivious of its meaning in other countries. It was the case for a Russian speedskater, Daniil Aldoshkin, who displayed the middle finger to celebrate his team’s victory during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, unaware of its offensive meaning.


Like most other countries, Brazilians find the middle finger extremely offensive. It’s one of the rudest gestures you can use in Brazil. It has the same meaning as making a circle with a thumb and the index finger, which Brazilians also find offensive. Although Americans use it to signal OK, the gesture has insulting connotations in Brazil.

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Middle Finger Gesture Meaning
AfghanistanOffensive, disrespectful
AlbaniaSign of disrespect and disdain
AlgeriaGesture of offense and scorn
AndorraDisplay of contempt or anger
AngolaSymbol of disdain or insult
Antigua and BarbudaOffensive gesture conveying anger
ArgentinaGesture indicating anger or contempt
ArmeniaSign of displeasure or scorn
AustraliaOffensive, vulgar, impolite
AustriaOffensive gesture communicating displeasure
AzerbaijanGesture of offense and disapproval
BahamasDisplay of anger or disrespect
BahrainSign of contempt or irritation
BangladeshOffensive, disrespectful
BarbadosOffensive gesture expressing dissatisfaction
BelarusGesture of offense or disapproval
BelgiumExpression of anger or disdain
BelizeGesture indicating displeasure or contempt
BeninSign of offense or scorn
BhutanOffensive, disrespectful
BoliviaOffensive sign conveying contempt
Bosnia and HerzegovinaGesture indicating offense or dissatisfaction
BotswanaSymbol of contempt or irritation
BrazilRude expression of anger or disapproval
BruneiSign of displeasure or scorn
BulgariaGesture conveying offense or disdain
Burkina FasoDisplay of anger or contempt
BurundiGesture expressing irritation or offense
CambodiaSign of displeasure or disapproval
CameroonGesture conveying offense or contempt
CanadaRude expression of anger or disdain
Central African RepublicGesture indicating offense or dissatisfaction
ChadDisplay of anger or disrespect
ChileSign of contempt or irritation
ChinaImpolite, disrespectful
ColombiaExpression of anger or disdain
ComorosGesture indicating displeasure or irritation
Costa RicaSign of contempt or irritation
CroatiaGesture of offense or disapproval
CubaRude expression of anger or disdain
CyprusSign of displeasure or disapproval
Czech RepublicGesture indicating offense or dissatisfaction
DenmarkGesture that may signify strong displeasure
DjiboutiDisplay of offense or irritation
DominicaRude expression of anger or disdain
Dominican RepublicSign of contempt or disapproval
EcuadorSymbol of anger or disdain
EgyptGesture indicating offense or dissatisfaction
El SalvadorDisplay of anger or contempt
Equatorial GuineaRude expression of anger or scorn
EritreaGesture conveying strong displeasure
EstoniaSign of offense or disapproval
EswatiniExpression of irritation or contempt
EthiopiaGesture indicating dissatisfaction or scorn
FijiGesture symbolizing strong displeasure
FinlandExpression of offense or contempt
FranceNonverbal sign of disrespect or irritation
GabonRude gesture conveying anger or disdain
GambiaDisplay of strong disapproval or irritation
GeorgiaGesture indicating disapproval or scorn
GermanyNonverbal expression of contempt or irritation
GhanaSymbolic gesture of displeasure or scorn
GreeceGesture representing offense or disdain
GrenadaDisplay of strong dissatisfaction or scorn
GuatemalaNonverbal sign of offense or irritation
GuineaGesture conveying anger or strong disapproval
Guinea BissauDisplay of strong dissatisfaction or scorn
GuyanaGesture symbolizing irritation or disapproval
HaitiNonverbal expression of anger or disdain
HondurasGesture indicating offense or contempt
HungaryDisplay of disapproval or irritation
IcelandNonverbal sign of displeasure or scorn
IndiaRude, offensive
IndonesiaDisplay of strong disapproval or irritation
IranOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
IraqNonverbal expression of displeasure
IrelandGesture indicating offense or scorn
IsraelDisplay of strong disapproval or irritation
ItalyOffensive, insulting
JamaicaNonverbal expression of offense or disdain
JapanImpolite, but also used innocently in some contexts. It may be used to indicate that something is perfect or complete, such as a chef signaling that a dish is perfectly seasoned or cooked to perfection. May also be used as a form of silent communication when it would be impolite to speak out loud, such as when a customer in a restaurant wants to order more drinks without interrupting teh conversation. However, the middle finger is still considered rude in certain contexts, such as while interacting with law enforcement officers or in a business setting.
JordanOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
KazakhstanOffensive, impolite
KenyaNonverbal expression of displeasure or irritation
KiribatiGesture symbolizing offense or disdain
KuwaitGesture conveying strong irritation or disapproval
KyrgyzstanSymbolic gesture of offense or disdain
LaosOffensive, disrespectful
LatviaDisplay of disapproval or irritation
LebanonNonverbal expression of offense or contempt
LesothoGesture symbolizing irritation or scorn
LiberiaGesture conveying strong disapproval or anger
LibyaDisplay of displeasure or disdain
LiechtensteinNonverbal expression of offense or irritation
LithuaniaGesture representing disapproval or scorn
LuxembourgGesture indicating offense or irritation
MadagascarNonverbal sign of strong displeasure
MalawiGesture symbolizing irritation or disapproval
MalaysiaGesture indicating offense or disdain
MaldivesOffensive, disrespectful
MaliGesture representing strong disapproval
MaltaDisplay of irritation or contempt
Marshall IslandsGesture indicating offense or disdain
MauritaniaGesture conveying strong displeasure
MauritiusNonverbal expression of offense or irritation
MexicoSymbolic gesture of disapproval or irritation
MicronesiaGesture indicating offense or contempt
MoldovaNonverbal expression of strong disapproval
MonacoDisplay of irritation or disdain
MongoliaGesture symbolizing offense or contempt
MontenegroGesture representing displeasure or scorn
MoroccoNonverbal expression of irritation or disapproval
MozambiqueGesture conveying strong dissatisfaction
NamibiaNonverbal expression of offense or scorn
NauruGesture representing irritation or disapproval
NepalOffensive, disrespectful
NetherlandsDisplay of strong disapproval or irritation
New ZealandGesture indicating offense or contempt
NicaraguaNonverbal expression of irritation or disdain
NigerGesture conveying strong disapproval
NigeriaGesture symbolizing offense or contempt
North KoreaOffensive, impolite
North MacedoniaDisplay of irritation or disapproval
NorwayGesture indicating offense or scorn
OmanOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
PakistanOffensive, disrespectful
PalauGesture indicating strong displeasure
PalestineNonverbal expression of irritation or disapproval
PanamaGesture symbolizing offense or scorn
Papua New GuineaDisplay of irritation or disapproval
ParaguayGesture indicating strong disapproval
PeruNonverbal expression of offense or contempt
PhilippinesGesture conveying irritation or disdain
PolandGesture representing displeasure or irritation
PortugalSymbolic gesture of offense or scorn
QatarNonverbal expression of strong disapproval
RomaniaDisplay of irritation or disapproval
RussiaGesture indicating offense or contempt
RwandaNonverbal expression of strong displeasure
Saint Kitts and NevisGesture symbolizing irritation or disdain
Saint LuciaGesture representing offense or contempt
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesNonverbal expression of displeasure or scorn
SamoaGesture indicating strong disapproval
San MarinoDisplay of irritation or disapproval
Sao Tome and PrincipeGesture symbolizing offense or scorn
Saudi ArabiaOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
SenegalNonverbal expression of offense or disdain
SerbiaGesture representing displeasure or contempt
SeychellesDisplay of strong disapproval or irritation
Sierra LeoneGesture indicating offense or scorn
SingaporeSymbolic gesture of disapproval or disdain
SlovakiaGesture conveying irritation or disapproval
SloveniaNonverbal expression of strong displeasure
Solomon IslandsGesture representing offense or contempt
SomaliaGesture symbolizing irritation or disdain
South AfricaNonverbal expression of offense or scorn
South KoreaGesture indicating strong disapproval
South SudanDisplay of irritation or disapproval
SpainGesture representing offense or contempt
Sri LankaOffensive, impolite
SudanGesture symbolizing irritation or disdain
SurinameGesture indicating offense or scorn
SwedenNonverbal expression of strong disapproval
SwitzerlandGesture conveying irritation or disapproval
SyriaOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
TaiwanNonverbal expression of strong displeasure
TajikistanOffensive, impolite
TanzaniaDisplay of strong disapproval or scorn
ThailandOffensive, disrespectful
Timor LesteOffensive, disrespectful
TogoGesture symbolizing irritation or disdain
TongaGesture indicating offense or contempt
TurkeyOffensive, disrespectful
TurkmenistanOffensive, impolite
United Arab EmiratesOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
United KingdomOffensive, impolite, disrespectful
United StatesOffensive, rude, disrespectful
UruguaySymbolic gesture of offense or contempt
UzbekistanOffensive, impolite
VanuatuNonverbal expression of irritation or disdain
Vatican CityGesture symbolizing offense or scorn
VenezuelaDisplay of strong disapproval or contempt
VietnamOffensive, disrespectful
YemenOffensive, disrespectful (sole of shoe)
ZambiaGesture conveying strong displeasure
ZimbabweNonverbal expression of irritation or contempt
showing: 186 rows

What does the middle finger mean in other countries?

In Japan, the middle finger is a friendly greeting, but in Germany, it's offensive and punishable by law. It is also considered rude in China, France, and Brazil.

Frequently Asked Questions