Video – Hand Gestures

American Hand Gestures


  1. Watch video.
  2. Then read text below it.
  3. Listen and read at the same time. Repeat.
  4. Watch video again without text.

Hi everybody. This is Phil and Bethany in Japan or PBinJ. And we’re here to talk to you about, not ourselves, so much as – I know – American hand gestures. Our most popular video, far and wide, has been about the American air quotes.

Click my face to watch that video.


Stop clicking my face.

And, we’ve been requested more than once by our more than one fan…

We have more than one fan!

Yes. Uh, to talk about other American hand gestures. So, we’ve put together a list of nine other American hand gestures that you might find Americans using or in American movies.

Disclaimer: This video is not meant to represent us, how we feel. It is purely just to explain what the secret meaning behind hand motions might be if you encounter them in America or in an American movie.

Without further ado…

1.   Thumbs up – There’s literally no way to make this offensive. It is positive always.

1.5        A-Okay – Another way to say okay is.. (Note: They do it with a clicking noise.) I’ve heard that this is offensive in other cultures. I won’t go into why. But not in America.

Not in America.


A-Okay. We’re sorry if we’re offending anybody right now.


2.   Fingers Crossed – The second hand gesture we’re going to discuss today is fingers crossed. “I really hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.”

“Oh, please, let my team win.”

Right. But, if you see somebody cross their fingers and put them behind their back, they are evil, and they are lying.

Very much lying.

3.   Middle Finger – I’m sorry. We’re not going to show you this gesture, because you probably already know it. It is the use of the middle finger alone. As in giving somebody the middle finger. Don’t do it! Just don’t! It will not make you friends…which we have a video about. Click my face again.

 Sometimes friends are joking, and they do it to each other. But we don’t really mean it. And we’re close, so it’s okay. But, in general, don’t do it.

 4.   Peace Sign – The fourth gesture we are going to talk about is something you probably are familiar with: the peace sign. And before we moved here we thought, “No one does the peace sign.” But, now everyone does the peace sign in Japan.

Yeah, outside the States, it’s very popular.


In the States, the peace sign is not used much at all, other than just to show, “Hey, peace.”

Oh, can you get down a little.

Oh yeah, and this.

We do this in pictures. Click, he’s a bunny. Oh, it’s so cute.

Oh, we’re so clever.

Aha! But really that’s the only reason we do it. But outside of America…

Outside, in Japan, they use it all the time. Korea, they use it all the time. So, it is okay to always use this in America. Even this, which I think I just offended all of Britain. I’m sorry.

5.   Maybe/Not Great – Number five hand gesture: this. It means maybe. (Note: it also means so-so or not great.) That’s it. That’s all it means. It’s like, “Hey, you wanna go somewhere?” [gesture] “Hey, how was that fish?” [gesture].

6.   Crazy – Number 6 hand gesture we’re going to talk about is crazy.  I have heard or read that this could mean different things in different cultures, but in America this

…means [whistling sound] crazy.

Yes, crazy. Like, “Man, he was so cute, but who-hoo, totally crazy.”

Or, or, to be fair. “She was hot, but she was crazy.”

7.   Gay – Hand gesture number seven might be a little bit controversial, and that’s not what we’re going for.  We’re just trying to explain that if you see this in a movie, maybe that’s what they mean. Okay.

It’s likely what they mean.

Right. So, here’s the example. “Oh my god, I thought he was so cute, but then I found out [gesture].” This means he was gay.

8.   Come Over – So, moving on to something much more important, much more relevant, and that you’ll see much more often…

Calling somebody over with your hand. In the States this is perfectly okay. This is perfectly okay. This perfectly okay. All of them are okay.

Since living in Japan, we’ve learned that this is how you call over a dog or an animal. Like, “Come here, Poochie. Oh, you’re so cute. Yes, you are.” So, you wouldn’t want to do that. But, in America if you do this, it’s totally fine.

It’s fine.

So, in Japan, (speaks Japanese). I need to tell you something.


But, in America…

It doesn’t matter. Just don’t use the middle finger! Remember.

Just don’t use the middle finger.

Don’t use the middle finger…which brings us to pointing.

9.   Pointing – Yes, pointing.

Pointing is rude.


Don’t do it at people.

Don’t do it at people.

Stop repeating me.


Here’s the thing about Americans. We don’t like gossip! be heard or known. So, if we’re going to gossip, we say, “Look over there. Ohh, she’s not wearing those jeans very well.” You don’t want to point and let someone know that you’re talking about them. So, don’t point. It’s rude.

That’s the example you’re giving them?

That’s the truth. And I’m not making Americans look very good right now, but… Again, not us.



Pointing is pretty straight forward.

So, that pretty much wraps up these nine hand gestures, except for this one. Please continue to watch us by subscribing and liking this video. And click on the little bell thing, which I’m still not sure what it does. But, go for it. Click it.

We love you. And see you next time.

Published by myunlimitedenglish

I understand that language acquisition is a process. Once a person has learned the first few words of the language, they are on their way! Whether the next step is talking about ordering food in a restaurant or launching a rocket into space, I am available to help with the English. My passion in my teaching is to applaud the acquired language, to build further understanding and to practice next steps. I look forward to helping you in your next steps.

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