What Gestures Are Used in Australia?

Updated April 17, 2017

Though the people of Australia have many gestures in common with Americans, other gestures may be foreign or even counterintuitive to a first-time visitor of the continent.

Thumbs Up

Though many western countries recognise a "thumbs up" gesture as an affirmative sign or sign of approval, in Australia it is considered a rude gesture having a meaning similar to that of a raised middle finger. Similarly, a "peace sign" given with the palm side of the hand facing the communicator is considered a rude, vulgar gesture in Australia. A "peace sign" given with the palm out means "peace" or "victory," as in North America.


For a man to wink at a woman would generally be considered inappropriate in Australia. Though many in the United States think of it as a harmless and playful gesture, in Australia it is often considered too suggestive.

Placing a Glass Squarely on the Bar

In many western countries it is common for men to finish an alcoholic drink and then place their glasses upside down on the bar or table, demonstrating that they've left nothing in the glass. In Australia, however, this gesture is a way of saying that a person may want to fight.

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About the Author

David White begin writing professionally in in 2004. His work appears in the State University of New York, Oswego campus newspaper, "The Oswegonian," and The Wilbur Weekly, an internet based weekly entertainment leaflet. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinema studies from SUNY, Oswego.