Talk:Thumbs signal

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Split suggestion[edit]

    • I agree. If you would like to do that I fully approve(not that that makes much difference) or I can do it my self. --Yarnalgo 05:07, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
      • Done. --Sengkang 08:05, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

International Contradiction[edit]

""Thumbs up" traditionally translates as the foulest of gesticular insults in some Middle Eastern countries — the most straightforward interpretation is 'Up yours, pal!'[5] The sign has a similarly pejorative meaning in parts of West Africa, South America, Iran, Iraq, and Sardinia, according to Roger E. Axtell's book Gestures: The Do's and Taboos of Body Language Around the World."[5]...

In Egypt, Iraq and Israel, it means perfect or very good. It's widely common between people."

This is a contradiction that needs to be clarified since according to the above, thumbs up in Iraq is both used a complement and an insult. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:47, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

UK entry[edit]

  • The whole entry for use in the UK looks like BS to me. In the UK thumbs up means 'Yes', or 'OK' as per the main article... and as for "pecifically north-west England, a single handed thumbs up sign can be used as a farewell or greetings gesture between young males" as someone who's grown up and lived in north west england all of my life (and various parts of it) I've *never* heard of this usage. (talk) 12:20, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree. East midlands here. Thumbs up is more related to "No worries", "Cool", or a sign of friends-ship. For example - Passing someone in a car, give them a thumbs up, to say aright. Like a nod of the head. Zackiller25 23:16, 24 November 2009 (GMT) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
Really don't want to make an argument out of it but I have to say that I am from North Wales (take a lot of influence from Liverpool/Cheshire area) and live in Manchester and I definitely do regularly give people the double thumbs up as a greeting. Not in a all situations, mostly with close male friends. To some extent I do it to make fun out of chavs/scallies who use it as a greeting. As for references or more detail...dunno at the moment.--Chrisjwowen (talk) 17:18, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Move request[edit]

Request to move this article to Thumbs up to conform to wiki standards. As the latter article already exists, can't move it (without cutting and pasting). Probably need an admin's help. Thanks. --Sengkang 08:17, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

I was thinking the same thing when I happened on this article. I don't think the gesture itself is really a "proper" noun so no need for the Title Case IMO either. --TS1 02:59, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Tried but failed. Need an admin's help. Thanks. --Sengkang 08:14, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
I've made the move. Note: You'll get these kinds of requests done faster if you ask an admin on his or her talk page rather than just leaving a comment on an article page. —Lowellian (reply) 06:25, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Formerly insulting gesture in Australia[edit]

As an Aussie travelling in rural areas of my country I have very occasionally come across people using a thumbs up gesture with an abrupt upward motion in the same "up yours" or "fuck off" sense normally associated with the V sign and the bird. In my childhood (1970s Melbourne) I can only remember the V sign with palm facing the person making the gesture. More recently the middle finger has become very common due to American cultural influences. I would suggest that most Aussies are familiar with both the V and the middle finger gestures but that some few must also be familiar with the thumb gesture which I can only assume predates British cultural influences introducing the V. Can anybody else comment on this? — Hippietrail 18:20, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I have no recollection of the thumbs up as a rude gesture, or the V. Just giving my opinion as a youth of Australia. It seems that the thumbs up appears pretty corny to me, but it is used more in a positive sense in Australia nowadays. (talk) 08:19, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
I live in rural Australia and have never heard of the thumbs up symbol being a rude one, however a rapid gesture over the shoulder with the thumb could mean "fuck off" (in the "go away" sense of the expression)
--RenevR (talk) 13:04, 12 April 2009 (UTC)


"In 1997, Professor Anthony Philip Corbeill of the University of Kansas concluded ..." Desmond Morris' Gestures: Their Origins and Distribution mentioned this long before 1997. why give Corbeill sole credit?


"Another rude gesture among kids (now less popular), is to show the thumb to a person and say "thengaa," sometimes followed making a face, drawing the tongue out and touching the chin with it.[citation needed] It indicates cocking a snook at someone.[citation needed]" Am I the only one that doesn't know what a "thengaa" or "cocking a snook at someone" is? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Junulo (talkcontribs) 22:36, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

The Latin is wrong.[edit]

In Latin, the "thumbs up" gesture is called pollice recto, "thumbs down" is pollice verso.

This is misleading at best, and is the same mistake Gerome made. First, Recto and verso do not mean "up" and "down". They mean "right/proper/correct/straight" (rectus) and "turned/bent/twisted" (versus).

Second, "pollice" anything is a prepositional phrase. Pollice verso means "with turned thumb". If you wish to argue that "turned" means "turned down" (there is evidence to the contrary) then "thumb down" would best be rendered pollex versus.

Furthermore, these are not the terms that were generally used for the gestures. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a Latin source with the phrase "pollice recto" or "pollex rectus" in it. The phrase does not exist. It probably never did. A much more common phrase than "pollex versus" was "pollex infestus", or "attacking thumb". This very phrase, combined with other anecdotal evidence, indicates that it is likely that the thumb gesture used to condemn was to pretend that your thumb was a dagger, and to stab at the victim (or perhaps oneself, at the neck) with it. It is generally believed that the gesture used to grant mercy was to hold the fist in a conspicuous manner and not do this, perhaps by keeping the thumb inside the hand, thus "sheathing" the dagger.

In any case, this sentence in the article is not correct. -- (talk) 09:29, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes it is very muddled and conflicts with main article at Pollice verso -- better to direct detail there; will aim to amend. --mervyn (talk) 10:45, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Some alternate references for the reverse[edit]

There have been some references that seem to say that "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" motions show the action of the sword. "Thumbs up" would show the sword stabbing up through the abdomen into the heart. "Thumbs down" would show the sword being stabbed into the ground, thus sparing the defeated gladiator. While there are places that state this, I have not seen any real evidence that this is correct.

Considering the blood thirstiness of the gladiatoral games, it can be seen that killing the defeated gladiator would be interpreted as "yes" or "ok" while sparing the defeated gladiator is a "no" vote.

My thinking after seeing numerous Hollywood spectacles is the opposite:"thumbs up" meant "he lives", & "thumbs down," then he dies. I have never even contemplated the supplied interpretation before.Nero's suddenly reversing his thumb downward after the crowd gave the up sign was a hallmark of one film. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:16, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Indian Gesture[edit]

What king of citations does one need for a social trend? I can vouch for the meanings of the gestures so mentioned in the article but what is the "proof" that needs to be submitted? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Smarter1 (talkcontribs) 05:53, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

I'm from South America and as far as I know the thumbs signal isnt offensive at all around here. Could anyone tell me the source of that information? I might be wrong but otherwise it would be good to rectify in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:37, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Backwards interpritation of pollice verso.[edit]

The History Channel has also tackled this & come to the same conclusion: Thumbs up: Run him through, thumbs down: Lay down your swords. & for some reason, Wikipedia has Hubpages blocked, so type Hubpages in with the following in quotations: What-was-the-origonal-meaning-of-a-thumbs-up —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:22, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

The Story of Man[edit]

"Carleton S. Coon, having observed Barbary apes in Gibraltar using the gesture, hypothesised in the anthropological classic The Story of Man that it is a mutual celebration of having opposable thumbs."

Can someone with access to The Story of Man verify this claim is made there? Apes giving a thumbs up in celebration of having thumbs is as likely as penis fencing being a mutual celebration of having a penis. Ie stupid and obviously so. However my limited knowledge of Coon suggests he's not a moron, hence my confusion.

"Josie Long"[edit]

I removed the picture of "British comedian Josie Long" and the link to her page. If that isn't a rather thinly veiled attempt at using this page for self-promotion/promotion of a friend I don't know what is, especially considering that her page is badly cited and flagged for quality standards. I've considered wikipedia:assume good faith and believe that in this case the quality of the article overrides that concern. (talk) 16:26, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

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What about 'Like' ?[edit]

Cant imagine 'Thumbs Up' gesture being discussed and there is no mention of how it is used on Internet to provide shortest of reactions / feedback on internet posts - the 'Like' button invariably has the 'Thumbs Up' link. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hidhaval (talkcontribs) 10:31, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Good idea. I will add it. (talk) 07:03, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Silly Title[edit]

There's only one thumb involved so shouldn't it be THUMB Signal? (talk) 21:34, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

No, actually, in the USA, since WWII, the gesture has been called "thumbs up" (plural) even if only one thumb is used. (talk) 07:05, 12 September 2013 (UTC)


The page seems to be a magnet for trolling. Notice the longstanding pattern of personal images of twenty somethings, all indoor (college dorm?), all frontal shots, invariably wearing a deadpan or other consciously ironic facial expression [1] [2] [3]. All were added by either anonymous ips or new/single purpose accounts, often with an absurd or offensive username (e.g. Whoremonal [4]). A number of the files were also deleted (e.g. [5]). Middayexpress (talk) 16:13, 26 April 2014 (UTC)


The Thumbs Up sign is offensive in some cultures, isn't it? Simsong (talk) 18:12, 27 September 2015 (UTC)