Is there a universal hand gesture for "thank you"?

Often while on the road when another driver is kind enough to let me pass or some other courtesy i find the need to give a quick “thanks” as i drive by…but the only thing that comes to mind is a “thumbs up” sign, and that just seems cheesy. How can i show my grattitude in a passing moment?

I always wave. Kind of a variation of the “Queen Wave” - hand up, fingers spread, side-to-side motion. Most people get it, and some respond back.

I think that in america at least, a nod combined with a sort of salute thing works pretty well. Actually, now that I think about it, it is a bit like a mini bow. One quick down and up with the head, and maybe a open hand from about six inches infront of the face, moving upwards.

This is what I usually do, and find it fairly common.

In Texas most folks I know just wave with their right hand as they pass the person who let them pass. This way they are able to see you friendly gesture through the back glass as you go by.Often a light tap on the brake pad is meant to say thankyou. Mostly truckers practice this but I use a lot myself.

A light tap on the brake or a wave is the usual gesture here.

Here is the official “thank you” in american sign language:

Touch the lips with the fingertips of one or both flat hands, then move the hands forward until the palms are facing up.

ThatGuy You were talking about a thankyou gesture to be used while driving right?

The need for such a gesture occured to me while driving, but i am intrested in a “thank you” gesture for any situation that would merit it.

I use a smile and a wave, (palm out, fingers up and moving up and sort of to the right at the same time. ) It’s very common here in Tennessee, especially in the rural areas.

It’s a bit of a sad statement that there would be no debate at all if you had asked ‘what is the universal hand signal for (pick your explitive).’ Well, actually, there would be… I don’t think the middle finger crosses all cultural boundaries.

That’s exactly what i was thinking FlippyFly, that i knew of plenty rude gestures…however when it came to showing a kind one i was stumped as to what to do.

In that case, then simply placing your hand over your heart with a slight bow or nod is considered a gesture of appreciation and respect in every culture that I can think of. Clasped or “praying hands” is another fairly universal gesture of good will. But still, a simple wave is good anywhere.

I don’t know for sure what’s universally accepted, but in almost 40 years of driving across about 20 states and a Canadian province, I’ve always found that the “pseudosalute” – open hand starting near forehead, coming up and out, accompanied by smile – conveys the meaning “thank you” very clearly.

If someone ahead of you does you a kindness, a quick flash of headlights to get their attention, accompanied by the wave if you are visible to them, is appropriate.

Don’t try that everywhere - in some places, flashing headlights is always a warning or a threat. When someone flashes from behind me I always assume he wants me out of his way.

When driving around big trucks (semis) I try to use my headlights as a signal. If someone needs to get in front of me, the thing to do is flash once or twice to let them know they have enough room.

They usually flash or tap the brakes as a thanks. I learned all this on a cross country drive with a 25 foot rental truck with my volvo on a trailer on the back.

I think more people should give a shaka.

For those who have not visited Hawaii:

Make a fist, except your pinky and thumb stick out and point away from each other. Then twist that hand.

When I lived in Hawaii I would make a concerted effort to allow The Bus drivers into the lane in front of me just so I could see that shaka sign stick out from the window. Really made me smile.

I dunno about that. I grew up in Hawaii, and my parents still live there. Whenever they come to visit me in Chicago, my dad insists on giving everyone the “shaka” in traffic. I keep waiting for someone to waste him for flashing some kind of gang sign. When in Rome, and all that…

You got a point there.
You know how you use your thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger to make a three-axis plot? Well, I learned you should be careful where you do that since it is a gang sign in some city in CA. :eek:

Yeah they call themselves ‘Rule of the Right Hand.’

In some parts of Italy, the most taboo of gestures is a wave with the palm towards the other person. The closest translation for the sentiment expressed would be “go to Hell”, except that it’s taken a lot more seriously. So no, obscene gestures don’t cross cultural boundaries, and no, a simple wave is not good anywhere.