italian hand gesture

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Italians are recognised worldwide for their expressive hand gestures, no conversation is complete without them. Ever wondered what they all mean?

What? Where? Why?

What? Where? Why?

Perhaps the most versatile and frequently used; there is not one single Italian speaker that does not use this on a daily basis! Some of us non-natives have realised we even use it when we’re not speaking Italian!

Look at that a**hole

2Another frequent gesture, this often follows the first one in situations of outrage and disbelief! We just love the eyebrows that go with it!

Finito (no more)

3This one is used often, but the meaning is less clear to non-natives; it simply means “all gone”. Another gesture that involves a similar movement of the hand, but the index finger instead points into the cheek means “tasty”.

Go f*** yourself!

4Hopefully this gesture won’t be necessary; but if it is, use it with the right offender. Sticking out your tongue is optional.

 OK! Good

5This hand gesture, in places such as Europe or the U.S., means “great”; but be careful! In parts of Brazil and Russia it’s an equivalent to the previous image!

Go away!


Again, we love the eyebrows that accompany this simple expression of moving your hand up and down to tell someone to “go away”; you could say it might come in “handy” if someone is annoying you!

If you could only imagine…

7This is one of our favourites; similar to many Italian hand gestures, this one is often used in casual conversations between friends, family or neighbours – “oh if only you knew”. The facial expression is also a key part to this one.

I don’t care


If you simply do not care about what someone is saying or has just said, and you feel that you can’t even express yourself with words; this simple gesture will suffice.

Forget it!


Confusing for people who have not seen this gesture before, it could be interpreted as “something smelly”. However, you would be mistaken; in Italian this hand gesture means “forget it!”

Intrawelt advises you to use these gestures with caution. We take no responsibility for the consequences of the use of these gestures, and as a language service provider note that for us, words speak just as loudly as actions!

Happy gesturing!

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Illustrations by: Alfredo Cassano

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