Tech Travelers: How Not To Be An Ugly American Geek

Written by Gina Smith

Traveling to Europe on business? Careful flashing that peace sign. It means something pretty disturbing to Brits. Here’s how not to be an ugly American geek, gesture-wise anyway. It’s the Hand Jive — Top 7 Common American Hand Gestures That Can Get You In Trouble Abroad infographic. It’s money.

aNewDomain — Giving America a bad name is all too easy. Check out the Hand Jive infographic below. It goes a long way toward helping you not to be an ugly American geek. Avoid the stereotype of the ugly American — or tech traveler — just by learning what local customs are.

I love this infographic that shows how an innocuous hand sign — like the peace sign I always flash — is basically the equivalent of a flip off in the UK.

And there are lots of Brits around tech shows, so that’s a key one to know. Here’s how not to be an ugly American geek — or a geek that’s just plain wrong. Great infographic. Check it out.

For, I’m Gina Smith.

Gina Smith is the New York Times best-selling author of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s memoir, ” iWOZ: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It”. (W.W. Norton, 2005/2007/2012). With John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle, she is editorial director at Email her at, check out her Google + stream here or follow her @ginasmith888.


  • If you concentrate on clutching new devices at MWC or a fork because of amazing food, you won’t have to worry about these “offensive” gestures.

    -RAP, II

  • The V sign is only insulting when used with the fingernails pointing towards your victim, the peace sign is fine in the uk and i think may have even been invented by our very own Winston churchill to represent VJ day the end of war and synonimous with peace. The V sign insult heralds back to the middle ages and wars with france, the english would show there two fingers pointed up towards the french as a goad to show they had their fingers that they used to opperate a bow in archery, the french would chop these fingers off of enemy archers so they would not be able to operate a long bow its pretty much the same throughout europe
    do your research
    get it right

  • The Greek’s have a whole lot of obscene hand signals, seems like they have a lot of pent up anger lol!

  • I’m from Manila, Philippines, and we do the finger curl (#6) all the time. Nobody I’ve asked has ever heard of it. The idea that you could get arrested and put in jail is crazy, since the only place this probably applies is in the tribal mountain-folk. You have to hike in the wilderness for many hours to find them.

  • the v-sign is only offensive if made backwards (palm towards you), that’s in Australia at least, means the same otherwise.

      • Yeah, here it derives from when armies would taunt archers who’d had their fingers cut off, rendering them useless. Unless that’s just myth.
        Either way its just a nice little, Up yours.

    • And in New Zealand. That way it essentially says ” your a c**t who spreads your legs”

    • Bush snr gave the 2 finger salute to a bunch of protesting Aussie farmers who interpreted it as “get stuffed Aussies” but the press claimed it was a V for victory.

  • Supposedly, it was Churchill who popularized the palm-front victory sign. Turned around, of course, it’s akin to holding up your middle finger. “Thumbs up” in Australia, too, is rude, according to a host family I stayed with in college. This after President Bush Sr. gave the thumbs up when he visited Australia.

    • You’re host family were grossly miss-informed mate. Thumbs up isn’t the least bit insulting in Australia

  • Nothing about Greece is true.

    And I’m Greek.

    I can reasonably think that everything else is also false.

  • No.1 & 3 are absolutely the same in Russia, as in U.S., where the hell did you get this information?!

  • I dont know about the rest, but anything said about Greece is pure bs…
    We use Thumbs Up for Good Job,

    there is no “Go to Hell” gesture and is definitely not expressed by the Stop sign,
    number 5 has a different meaning here, yes, its a gesture made by Rock fans,
    and the only way we say “Eat sh*t” is “????? ?? ???”….

    Whoever wrote this has complete ignorance about the subject…

  • Let me tell you why thats buuulshit for fact number one. I’m Russian and that the thumbs up means exactly the same thing.

  • This whole article is bogus. I’ve been to most of the countries listed and none of these are true.

  • That’s the “v” sign with palm inward, apparently. There are a million pictures of Prime Minister of Great Britain Winston Churchill giving the “V” for victory sign during WW 2 with palm facing outward.

  • 2 fingers up in GB has two meanings, with palm facing the other person it means victory, or 2. So you can either do a Winston Churchill or order 2 beers. With the back of the hand facing the other person, it means “up yours”