Gestures Related to Chinese




Sign language is a body language and non-verbal communication. According to statistics, there are as many as 700,000 kinds of human body languages, and some studies even say that about 55% of interpersonal communication is body language.


Let‘s first recall some international accidents regarding gestures.
In 1992, a shocking report appeared in Australian newspaper, entitled "The President of the United States insults Australians!", evidenced with a photo: President Bush made a V gesture, hand back outward to welcoming crowd. In Australia, this gesture means insult with dirty words, just like middle finger stretched!


On another occasion, still at Australian airport, at the end of the visit, when answering a question from Australian Prime Minister about his impression on Australia, the visiting US President surprisingly thumbed up, but suddenly he realized something wrong and quickly withdrew his thumb, so avoided a diplomatic embarrassment. In Australia this also means insult with dirty words!


When US President Nixon visited Brazil in early time, he waved his arms and made "OK" gestures with two hands to the welcoming crowd. His double insults angered the local people. In Brazil, this gesture means "you are shit"!


Obviously it is so important to know well sign language, especially for language-learning students. So called "when in Rome, do as the Romans do"!
Well, let's talk about gestures related to Chinese now.




一 中国的拱手礼
Chinese Fist-Palm Salute

现代的见面礼节是握手,但在中国还有一个传统的“作揖”,即右手握拳,左手掌压住右拳,意思是以真诚取代武器以示尊重; 女子正相反,右手掌压左拳。

The modern greeting way is shaking hands, but in China there is also a traditional "fist-palm salute", that is, right hand forms a fist, left palm on the right fist, showing respect by replacing weapons with sincerity, while for women, the opposite is true, right palm on left fist.






It is also possible to use clasped fist salute,, that is, right hand forms fist,  left hand holding fist, especially in traditional Chinese martial arts.
During a pandemic, fist & palm salute is much safer than shaking hands.

两手表示的数字手势语 Number gestures by both hands


中国的数字手势语 Number gestures in China


二 中国的数字手势语 Number Gestures in China

1 数字”0”:拇指与食指形成圆圈,其余三指伸开,手心向外。

Number “0”: Thumb and index finger form a circle, with other three fingers stretched out and palm outward.

注:这在西方国家一般表示OK或厕所 。在法国也表示“零”或不值得的事情。在日本、缅甸、韩国表示钱。在泰国表示“没问题”。在希腊、土耳其、巴西(拉丁美洲)、意大利的撒丁岛则是下流动作。在中东有同性恋的含义或象征“邪恶之眼”。在印度表示“正确”。在马耳他表示咒骂。

Note: In Western countries this generally means OK or toilet. In France it also means "zero" or unworthy things. In Japan, Myanmar, and South Korea it means money. In Thailand it means "no problem" . In Greece, Turkey, Brazil (Latin America), and Sardinia in Italy, it is a dirty gesture. In the Middle East, there is sense of homosexuality in it or it is symbol of "evil eye". In India it means "correctness". In Malta it means cursing.


2 数字”1”: 向上伸食指。  Number “1”: Index finger upward.


Note: In countries such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico it also means 1. In Mexico, Myanmar, Japan, and Malaysia it means “the fist”. In America, it means “one moment”, and it may also mean “blame” or “shut up”. In France, it means that students want to answer questions in class. In Singapore, it means something under discussion is the most important. In Burma, it means need of help. In Australia, it means "A glass of beer, please" in bars and restaurants. In the Middle East it is a rude gesture.

3 数字”2”: 伸出食指和中指作V形。
Number “2”: index finger and middle finger extended in V-shape.



Note: In Western countries, the palm-outward V gesture means victory, also known as the scissors hand, first used by Belgian lawyer de La Vere to despise the Nazis. In Serbia it means "heroism". In the Netherlands it means "freedom".
But if the back of the hand is turned outwards, in Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, it is like stretching the middle finger meaning ridicule and insult, that is to say, "up yours".

In Greece, however, the back of the hand must be outward. If the palm is outward it means contempt and insult.




4 数字”3”: 伸出中指、无名指和小指。
Number “3”: middle finger, ring finger and little finger extended.

Note: In the West, extended index finger, middle finger and ring finger generally means “3”.

5 数字”4”:伸出食指、中指、无名指和小指。
Number “4”: index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger extended.

Note: Many people in China think this an unlucky number.

6 数字”5”: 伸出五个手指。
Number “5”: Five fingers stretched.

Note: In Greece, Africa and Pakistan this means "go to die". In the West thumb often means “5”.

7 数字”6”: 伸出拇指和小指,其余手指弯曲。
Number “6”: Thumb and little finger stretched with other fingers bent.

Note: In some countries it is called long-horn gesture. In some western countries this means discontent, avoid of evil, and "cuckolds" . In some parts of Africa it means curse. In Hawaii it is called shaka gesture, and it mainly means friendship, gratitude and encouragement. Jewish people think 6 an unlucky number, and "666" is called Satanic number.



                   夏威夷shaka手势 Shaka gesture in Hawaii



                     “666” 撒旦数字 "666" Satanic number.


8 数字”7”: 拇指、食指、中指并在一起,其余各指弯曲。
Number “7”: Thumb, index finger, and middle finger put together, other fingers bent.

Note: In some countries it means something of insult.

9 数字”8”: 拇指和食指伸出形成直角。
Number “8": Thumb and index finger stretched in right angle shape.

Note: 8 is an auspicious number in China. In European and American countries such as Poland, it means 2, not 8.

10 数字”9”: 伸出食指弯曲成勾状,其余各指弯曲。
Number “9”: Index finger Stretched and bent in hook shape, with other fingers bent.

Note: In Japan, it means stealing. in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, it means death, and in Mexico it means "money", quantity and inquiry of price.

11 数字”10”: 食指和中指交叉。Index finger and middle finger kept crossed

Note: In western countries it means blessing for good luck . In Vietnam It is indecent.




注 Note

An odd number of fingers stretched for gestures of 1, 3, 5, 7, 9; an even number of fingers stretched for gestures of 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.

三 中国特有的手势语 Unique gestures in China

1 中国人常用食指尖指向自己的鼻头(要小心不要指到眼睛上),意思是:“是我”。西方人会觉得可笑。
Chinese people often point the tip of index finger at the nose (be careful not to point to the eyes), which means "It's me". Westerners would find it ridiculous.

Note: In the west, people rest right hand on the left chest.

Chinese people pat stomach to show that they are full (Westerners may mistake it for ...).

Note: In the West, people put the palm downward to the throat to show that they are full, and at the same time they will say "here it is." (Chinese people may mistake it for ending the life).

Chinese people often scratch head and suck in air when they are confused or embarrassed.

Note: Westerners often shrug to express regret or helplessness.


4 有人为自己倒茶或斟酒时,伸出一只手或两只手放在杯子旁边表示感谢。在中国南方一些地方,则用右手手指轻敲桌子以示感谢。
When someone is serving tea or wine, put one or two hands beside the cup to express gratitude. In some places of southern China, express gratitude by tapping softly the table with right fingers.

四 中国与其他国家含义不同的手势语  
Chinese gestures with different meanings from other countries

1 在中国“点头Yes摇头No”。
In China, "Nodding Yes and shaking head for No".

In India, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Nepal, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and parts of Greece, the opposite is true: "Shaking head for Yes and nodding for No."

2 在中国观众鼓掌时演员或讲话人也跟着鼓掌表示感谢,在西方被认为是不谦虚。
In China, when audience applauds, the actors or speakers also applaud to express gratitude. In the West, this is considered not modest.

3 在中国竖起拇指表示赞扬 Thumbs up for praise in China.


In the West and Japan, thumb means 5. In Britain, America, France, and India, thumbs up means hitchhike. Thumbs up in Germany means 1. In Japan, it means "man", "your father" and "supreme". In South Korea, it means "chief", "one’s own father", "minister", and "captain". In Mexico and the Netherlands it means "prayer". In Australia, Italy, Greece, Iran, and Nigeria, it means  insult, especially when thumbs up horizontally.



4 在中国食指轻敲太阳穴表示正在思考,英美人这样作则表示“你真没劲”、“没意思”。
 In China, tapping temple with index finger means contemplating, while in Britain and America so doing means "you are really boring" and "no fun".

5 在中国手心向下,不断弯曲四个手指表示招呼对方过来。
In China, beckoning by bending four fingers again and again, palm downward.
In America, it may be regarded as saying goodbye, so the person will turn around and leave. In America, palm is upward when beckoning to someone.

6 在中国年轻人有时伸舌头表示不好意思。美国儿童这样做是表示看不起。
In China, young people sometimes show their embarrassment by sticking tongues out. American children do so to show contempt.

7 中国人摆动伸开的五指表示劝对方不要做某事。英美人则摆动伸出的食指。
Chinese wave five outstretched fingers to persuade someone not to do something. The British and Americans wave their outstretched index finger.

8 中国伸小指表示蔑视。
In China stretched little finger means contempt.

In Japan, little finger means a woman or a lover. In South Korea, it means wife and girlfriend. In the Philippines, it means short person, young person or unimportant person. In Thailand and Saudi Arabia it means friend. In Myanmar and India, it means toilet. In Britain it means coward. In America, South Korea, and Nigeria it means a bet. In America discontent and opposition is expressed by thumbs down.

五 中国没有的手势语 Gestures not found in China

1 耸肩(shrug)表示无奈。
Shrug means helplessness.

2 双手上举表示胜利。
Both hands up means victory.

3 将左手放右胸前表示真诚。
Left hand put on the right chest means sincerity.

4 用眨眼表示赞许,特别是在美国。
Winking approval, especially in America.

5 将头向一侧偏表示非正式打招呼,特别是在英国。
Tilting head to one side means greeting informally, especially in Britain.

6 竖起食指放噘起的嘴唇上示意安静。中国人仅发“嘘”声。
Index finger up on pursed lips means require of being quiet. Chinese people only "hiss".

7 伸出中指表示骂人(在中国很少见)。
Stretched middle finger means cursing (seldom seen in China).

在美国,这是最具侮辱性的手势,也叫做“flip someone off”或是“shoot the bird”。自从古罗马中指就被称为“轻浮的手指”。
In America, it is the most insulting gesture, also called "flip someone off" or "shoot the bird". Since ancient Rome middle finger has been called "frivolous finger".




8 向下伸出拇指表示反对
 Thumbs down means opposition.
In Britain, America, and the Philippines, it means refusal or other person loses. In Mexico and France it means "useless" and "unlucky". In Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia it means failure. In Australia it means ridiculing. In Tunisia it means "pour water" or "stop".




9 “我爱你”手势:伸出拇指和食指、小指,表示I Love You。
"I Love You" gesture: Thumb, index finger and little finger stretched means I Love You.
 In gesture letters, little finger means I, index finger and thumb means "L" (LOVE), and thumb and little finger means "Y" (YOU).




10 摇滚手势(重金属手势或金属礼)(意大利语corna,称为mano cornuta或犄角手势,因为看上去像山羊角而得名):食指与小指伸直,拇指压住弯曲的中指和无名指。
Rock On gesture (heavy metal gesture or metal salute) (Italian corna, called mano cornuta or horned hand, so named because it looks like goat horns): index finger and little finger stretched with the thumb on the bent middle finger and ring finger.






摇滚手势起源于撒旦手势(魔鬼手势),在撒旦教也被称为Satan Salute。这个手势在波罗的海地区、巴西、哥伦比亚、意大利、西班牙、葡萄牙表示侮辱。
Rock On gesture derived from Satanic gesture (the Horned Hands) , also known as Satan Salute in Satanism. This gesture means insult in the Baltic region, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.



                                   Satannic Hand Sign 撒旦的手语




词语学习 Words to learn

1 手(shǒu)势(shì)语(yǔ) gesture/sign language

2 肢(zhī)体(tǐ)语(yǔ)言(yán) body language

3 非(fēi)语(yǔ)言(yán)交(jiāo)际(jì) non-verbal communication

4 拇(mǔ)指(zhǐ) thumb

5 食(shí)指(zhǐ) index finger/forefinger

6 中(zhōnɡ)指(zhǐ) middle finger

7 无(wú)名(mínɡ)指(zhǐ) ring finger

8 小(xiǎo)指(zhǐ) small finger

9 手(shǒu)心(xīn)(手(shǒu)掌(zhǎnɡ)) palm

10 手(shǒu)背(bèi) back of hand

11 拳(quán)头(tóu) fist

12 伸(shēn)出(chū)(伸(shēn)展(zhǎn)) extend/hold out/stretch out

13 弯(wān)曲(qū)bend

14 入(rù)乡(xiānɡ)随(suí)俗(sú) When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

15 握(wò)手(shǒu) shake hands with

16 拱(ɡǒnɡ)手(shǒu)礼(lǐ) fist-palm salute/Chinese Arching Hand Salute

17 作(zuò)揖(yī) make a bow with hands folded in front

18 耸(sǒnɡ)肩(jiān) shrug

19 眨(zhǎ)眼(yǎn) blink/wink




课后你在家里做什么?如果你有意参加HSK的话,杨老师有个建议,你可以访问杨老师的汉语教学网站 jyangkul.net 的“汉语水平考试 HSK”栏目中的“考试资料HSK Materials”,在那里杨老师已经放进去很多很多非常有用的HSK学习资料供你自学,从HSK一级到六级,包括“HSK标准教程”(课本、音频、练习册、PDF下载)等。祝大家学习进步!                                  

JYag has a warm suggestion

What do you do after class at home? If you want to take HSK, Jyang has a suggestion. You may vist "考试资料 HSK Materials" in the "汉语水平考试 HSK" section of Jyang’s website jyangkul.net, where JYang has put a lot of very useful HSK learning materials for your self-study, from Level 1 to Level 6, including "HSK Standard Courses" (textbook, audio, workbook, PDF for download), etc. Have a great progress in learning Chinese! 




There are 3 sections in "JYangSinology"

(Please click the blue"JYangSinology" 

  on the top and read more)

1.教学栏Teaching section

课堂辅导Our lessons

基本句型Sentence paterns

专业汉语Special Chinese

时政汉语Current Affairs Chinese1

时政汉语Current Affairs Chinese2


2.文化栏Culture section

中国知识About China

武术太极Martial arts & taiji

成语故事Idioms and stories

形象表达Vivid expressions

诗词歌曲Peoms and songs


3.信息栏Information section

关于本公众号About JYangSinology

汉语知识Chinese language


量词缩略Measure words & Abbreviation

轻松聊天Free talk


A Classroom for Chinese Learning;

A Window for Knowing China