Italian HAND GESTURES: discover the most famous GESTURES of the Italians!

We Italians are pretty famous in the world for our ability to gesticulate when we talk. In fact, we move our hands to emphasize the matter, to underline the concepts, to be better understood…but did you know that we are even able to have a conversation without using words, just with gestures? No, I’m not joking: it’s quite common, actually. Keep reading to find out about the Italian gesture and prove yourself with the hand gesture test!

Explaining Italian Gestures

Italian gesture is a combination of attitudes, facial expressions and hand movements, which characterize Italian mother tongue communication. These actions may differ from region to region, although attributable to the same phenomenon. According to the Psychologist Isabella Poggi, 250 gestures can be distinguished in Italian culture, but they shouldn’t be confused with Italian Sign Language or LIS (Lingua dei Segni Italiana), used by the deaf community.

Typically, gestures are co-verbal, so they accompany the word, but they can also be independent, used without talking. Hand gestures are used together with head movements and facial expressions, which emphasize the whole thing.

Independent gestures are used in particular cases when, for example, if you are in a place where you can’t talk such as the church or the library, or if you want to rapidly communicate something to a person who is quite far from you and you can’t shout, or even if you are in a noisy area as a disco and it could be challenging to understand what’s said.

Usually foreign students feel stranger to this kind of conversations because they don’t understand them, so we’ll show you the explanations of the most famous and commonly used gestures.

Most used italian gestures

The most famous of all

The firgertips join together and the hand moves pretty much rapidly; it means: “What do you want?”, “What’s up?”. You can use both hands or just one.

I don’t care

The hand touches the chin and then moves forth: it indicates indifference, total disregard, something we just don’t care about; it’s a frank and direct gesture.

I didn’t understand

The open hand gets closer to the ear.

Being hungry

The open hand, with spread and joined fingers , horizontally and rhytmically taps on your side, in the stomach area.

I don’t have it/There isn’t any

Forefinger and thumb opened, as to mimic a handgun, the hand turns on the wrist to the right and left, neither slow nor fast.


Biting your knuckle, usually the forefinger.


Forefinger and thumb together form a circle, the other fingers points upwards. Or the thumb points upwards, while the others close.

So good!

The forefinger points and is “screwed” to the centre of the cheek.

In secret

The fingers of the hand facing down and the bent wrist create circular movements. It indicates something made secretly, sometimes illegal, or something secret.


The forefinger rests on the lower lid, it means “be careful”.

Come here!

The hand facing down stretchs out and bends towards the speaker. Or the forefinger indicates the place where the interlocutor should get.

A delicacy

The man kisses his fingertips and then flaps them.


Forefingers placed side by side. It means: bring two people together.

That stinks!

You wave your hand in front of your nose, to the right and to the left, accompanying with a disgust face.

Let’s go!

The hand with fingers together points in a direction, and can be accompanied by the other hand which rests on the wrist and by the head and the gaze that point in the same direction.

Enough/More or less

The open hand swings to the right and to the left.

The rudest

The person only lifts the forefinger of the hand, or the other hand touches the embow pit, while the other fist is closed. You can all imagine what is one means!

Right, now that you know some of the most famous gestures the Italians do, go watch the video in the article! I decided to test you: I’ll show you a series of sentences using gestures only, afterwards I’ll leave you time to think and try to understand what I am effectively communicating, at the end there’s the solution. Remember, don’t forget to tell us how many right and wrong answers you gave, because then you’ll find out your level of knowledge of italian gestures by the result at the end of the video!

Did you already know all the gestures in the list? Do you know more? Do you use them in your country? Let me know in the comments! Also, I suggest you to focus on this topic with our how to gesticulate as an italian tutorial!

Leave a Reply