Rude Irish hand gestures: 10 most offensive signs in Ireland

Hand gestures are a great way to communicate. However, in Ireland, there are some rude Irish hand gestures, you must avoid at all costs.

When travelling around, it is always wise to learn a little bit about the local culture, especially when it comes to hand gestures. You never know who you might offend, and this certainly differs greatly from country to country.

Ireland is no exception to this rule. There are several rude Irish hand gestures that you better think twice about using before you greet an Irish person. So, stick around and we will uncover a few.

Irish people are masters of using hand gestures, probably not as much as the Italians. Still, we do love to get our point across in a variety of ways by using hand signals.

So, let’s take a look at these top ten rude Irish hand gestures that you should think twice before using.

10. The double middle finger – double trouble

Double middle fingers kick off our list of the most rude Irish hand gestures.

So, if you think one middle finger is bad, then two middle fingers are certainly worse, especially in Ireland.

To avoid getting on the wrong side of someone, avoid using this rude hand signal

9. The brisk in your face wave – not the right wave

Waving in someone's face is regarded as rude.

Waving to people in Ireland is standard practice to say hi to someone or get someone’s attention. However, you better check how you are waving to not offend anyone.

If you wave close to somebody in a brisk fashion, it gives off a rude, “Hello, can you not see me here?” vibe, which is not appreciated.

8. Pointing the finger – get the point

Pointing your finger at someone can be seen as a rude Irish hand gestures.

As a kid, we were all taught in Ireland that it is rude to point.

S,o if you are talking about someone and you turn and point to them, that is considered one of the top rude Irish hand gestures, so best to avoid this.

7. Clenching your fist – one of the main rude Irish hand gestures

Clenching your fists are regarded as one of the main rude Irish hand gestures.

In Ireland, clenching your fist in the air comes across as very aggressive. So, it is best to think twice before using this hand signal.

There might not be many times that you will be tempted to use this, but, if you are, it will probably be when you are stuck in traffic and have missed the lights again.

6. Raising your hand over the steering wheel – also known as the WTF gesture

This rude Irish hand gesture is made when driving.

This rude Irish hand gesture can be seen from time to time when driving, most likely when the driver is agitated and is accompanied by some swear words.

As you might have guessed, it’s best not to gesture in this way, even if you someone has pulled out in front of you. It happens when the situation is not so bad to beep, but you still want to make sure other drivers know how angry you are.

5. Ignoring a handshake – the gesture not to ignore

Ignoring a handshake is widely regarded as one of the more rude Irish hand gestures.

In Ireland, people tend to greet each other by shaking hands, especially if you have just met, unlike kisses on the cheek in other countries throughout the world (you won’t see this in Ireland).

If someone offers their hand, it is quite rude if you do not offer yours. So, casually shake their hand and all is well with the world.

4. Snapping your fingers in a restaurant – just don’t do it

It is better to say excuse me to a waiter as opposed to snapping your fingers.

While, in some countries, this may be a good way to get your waiter’s attention, you must know that this is considered extremely rude in Ireland and you will not get a positive reaction.

It is best to politely say, “excuse me”, when the waiter comes close to you, or catch their eye from afar. Whatever you do, do not snap your fingers, or you will most likely get some looks from customers and staff in the restaurant.

3. The middle finger – a big NO NO

The middle finger is high on our list of rude Irish hand gestures.
Credit: Flickr / Christoph Scholz

It is unlikely that anywhere in the world positively uses this hand gesture. So, if you use this in Ireland, you can expect the same response as you would anywhere else.

This is one of the main rude Irish hand gestures that you should avoid at all costs, even if you encounter a careless driver, which might seem the common gesture to make. 

2. The slow clap – the ultimate sarcastic gesture

Credit: YouTube / Mynka

Believe it or not, this is one of the most sarcastic and rude Irish hand gestures there is and is certainly one we have all used or had used on us at one time or another (especially in our school days).

If someone is talking and you decide to slow clap after they have finished, you can expect some fierce looks, so best to avoid doing this.

1. The inward-facing peace sign – not to be used when ordering

The V-sign tops our list of the most rude Irish hand gestures.
Credit: Flickr / Marco Verch Professional Photographer

This is one of the most notable rude Irish hand gestures, as you can imagine.

So, if you find yourself at the bar ordering two drinks or in a bakery asking for two loaves of bread, please, oh please, do not use the V sign to avoid really offending the staff.

Notable mentions

The exasperated gesture: This rude gesture will certainly show how frustrated you are, and can be an insulting gesture.

The shaking fist: As if the clenched fist wasn’t bad enough, the shaking fist will surely frighten and offend some people.

Talk to the hand: This rude hand signal, which took off during the school years, is still massively offensive in Ireland. It is one of the most offensive gestures.

Tapping on the counter: This hand gesture may be normal for you when ordering the same again. However, in Ireland, this is considered very rude, so best just to ask for another.

FAQs about rude Irish hand gestures

The thumbs up is regarded as offensive by Latin Americans.

What is the rudest hand gesture in Ireland?

The V sign is perhaps the worst of the rude hand gestures. This is unlike some of the Italian hand gestures that can be seen as a positive gesture to make. 

What gestures are offensive in Ireland?

The middle finger, the V sign, and snapping your fingers are all, in their own right, obscene gestures to make. Your facial expressions may also help to make them more offensive.

What country is thumbs up offensive?

Middle Eastern countries, such as Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, find this gesture offensive. Latin Americans may also find this offensive, despite it being seen as one of the most innocent gestures in Ireland. 

So, there you have it; the top ten rude Irish hand gestures that you should avoid at all costs to save yourself the shame and embarrassment.

Still, don’t worry, there are plenty of acceptable Irish hand gestures you can use.

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