What Is the Chinese Middle Finger?

March 19, 2024
David Sunnyside

From expressing numbers to conveying sentiments of friendship, hand gestures play an integral role in Chinese culture. This is especially true when it comes to body language, as a single flick of the finger can carry an array of different meanings depending on context. While some Chinese gestures are quite offensive to Westerners, there are also some that are considered incredibly respectful and honorific. Having the right amount of knowledge on these different hand gestures will help you navigate social and professional interactions with confidence and respect.

What Is the Chinese Middle Finger?

In China, the middle finger holds significant spiritual significance. The symbol is associated with fire, which carries powerful mystical powers. This makes it a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Throughout history, the middle finger has been used in many ways in rituals and folk beliefs to ward off evil spirits and curses.

Extending the middle finger is often viewed as an obscene gesture in the West. However, in China, it’s not seen as rude at all. Generally speaking, people use the middle finger to represent prosperity and happiness. This gesture is even incorporated in certain meditation practices like the Nine Hand Seal or Kuji-in to promote peace and positivity.

Other than the middle finger, there’s not really a perfect equivalent to the American “flip the bird” gesture in China. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other gestures that could be interpreted as rude and offensive in the country. For instance, forming a “telephone” shape with your thumb and index finger is viewed as a snub in some parts of the country, similar to giving the middle finger.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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