Fig sign

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The fig sign

The fig sign is a mildly obscene gesture used in Turkish and Slavic cultures and some other cultures that uses two fingers and a thumb. This gesture is most commonly used to deny a request.

In Brazil, use of this gesture is said to ward off evil eye, jealousy, etc. Ornaments with this symbol are often worn as a good luck charm. [1][2]

In ancient Rome, the fig sign, or manu fica, was made by the pater familias to ward off the evil spirits of the dead as a part of the Lemuria ritual.[3]

The hand gesture may have originated in ancient Hindu culture to depict the lingam and yoni.[2]

Among early Christians, it was known as the manus obscena, or "obscene hand".[2]

Recently, a Ukrainian word for this gesture "дуля" (dulya) has also become a jargon to refer to Control-Alt-Delete. (" need three fingers to press the buttons. So it's like telling somebody (a computer in this case) to get lost.") [4]

The letter "T" in the American manual alphabet is very similar to this gesture.

International nomenclature[edit]

  • In Italy this sign, known as mano in fica ("fig-hand"), or far le fiche (cunt gesture), for the resemblance to female genitalia, was a common and very rude gesture in past centuries, similar to the finger, but has long since fallen out of use.[2] Notably, a remnant of its usage is found in Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto XXV).
  • In Greece and particularly in the Ionian Islands this gesture is still used as an alternative to the moutza. It is known as a "fist-phallus", and can be accompanied by extending the right hand while clasping the left hand under one's armpit in a derogatory manner.[2]
  • In Japan this sign is called セックス (sekkusu) and means sex. Since 1989, it has fallen into disuse.[5]
  • In Russia, Poland [2] it is used when denying a request. For example, when asked to hand something over, a child might make the gesture, thereby implying that they will not give it.[citation needed]
  • In Croatia it is used when denying a request or when swearing a false oath. In the request denial case it is called a fig ("figa") but also a "rose hip" ("Šipak"). "Evo ti figa/Šipak!" (here is a fig/rose hip for you!) is a slightly rude but also a humorous way of rejecting someone's request. In addition - it is also used when when swearing a false oath or falsifying an affirmation to tell the truth. In this case, it is said that a person is taking a false oath by hiding a fig sign in a pocket ("figa u džepu")[6].
  • In Turkey, it is an obscene gesture equivalent to showing the middle finger, and is also used to show disagreement at a statement or to deny a request. In the latter sense, it is often accompanied by the (rude) "nah!" conveying negation or disagreement (see wiktionary:nah), or by the imperative "al!" meaning "take it!", or the combination of the two: "nah alırsın!" meaning "you will get nothing!" Thus, the gesture is often referred to as "nah çekmek", meaning to "draw (show) a nah". [7] It is used in a similar context in Bulgaria.
  • In many countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Denmark, and the Czech Republic, this sign has no obscene meaning and is instead used in a game where a player "steals" someone else's nose. This is usually done with small children where the player pretends to take their nose and then say "I've got your nose". The thumb represents the "stolen" nose held between the player's index and middle finger. This innocent meaning may exist alongside the obscene one, for example in Germany.
  • In South Africa, it was once known as "the zap sign" and was the equivalent of giving the finger.
  • In Portugal, it is a gesture of good luck, or even wishing good luck.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e Hamilton, Terri. Skin Flutes & Velvet Gloves. 2007. pp.279-80.
  3. ^ Adkins, Lesley (2004). Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome: p317.
  4. ^ Kleinman, Zoe (16 August 2010). "How the internet is changing language". BBC News. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Hamiru-aqui (2008). 70 Japanese Gestures. Translated by Aileen Chang. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-1933330013. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Što znači... Figa u džepu" - in Croatian [1]
  7. ^ Though lacking a definitive reference, abundant examples of these uses exist and are easily accessible on the Internet. (It appears, for example, in movie scenes by Kemal Sunal, and is used frequently in the comedy shows of Levent Kırca.)