OK sign and thumb-up sign. Are they still offensive in certain parts of the world?

This is complete and utter bullshit. The thumbs-up sign is not the least bit offensive in Thailand. It means the same as it does in the US – general approval for something.

Just to be sure I have not been misinterpreting all these signs of support directed toward me, I consulted my Thai wife, who confirms that is bullshit. (Or maybe she just wants to be able to keep giving me that sign, dunno.)

EDIT: As for the okay sign, that’s not offensive here either.

Thanks Siam Sam. There is quite a bit of misinformation online regarding this topic. I’d appreciate your feedback on what are considered offensive gestures in Thailand, so we can clear up some misconceptions.

How does “my hovercraft is full of eels” translate?

“My nipples explode with delight” might be more appropriate in Thailand.

Is that to or from Hungarian?

You know how you wave someone over, with your palm up? That’s considered offensive in Thailand, because it’s how you call a dog. The correct way to motion someone over is with the palm down. And that is also the way you hail a taxi.

Yes, it was many years of Thais saying saying “Yeah, same ol’, same ol’” to me before I realized I was actually saying “My nipples explode with delight.”

Same in China. Palm down to wave someone over is rude but not fighting bad.

Palm down is the polite way to motion someone over in Thailand. It’s palm up that’s rude.

Another couple while I’m thinking of it is pointing or doing pretty much anything else with one’s feet, as that’s the “lowest” part of the body. My wife was horrified at first at the U of Hawaii to find a group of us farangs (whiteys) sitting way back in a lecture hall with our feet propped up. You would also never hide money in your shoe, especially since all currency carries the image of the king – theoretically you could be charged with lese majeste and sentenced to 15 years.

Complementing the feet being the “lowest” part of the body, the head is the “highest” and should never be touched by someone else unless you are extremely good friends. Even patting a small child on the head will be considered offensive by its parents. Slap someone up the side of the head and you had best be prepared to fight to the death.

Among which Asian women, which are least likely to shake hands with you?
In my experience Chinese women will more often than not shake hands, whereas Korean women will not. Among certain groups like the Korean-Chinese (chaoxian), they will most likely not shake hands. Can you tell me among other Asian nationalities, where its not polite to shake hands or expect a handshake.?

Asia is a large continent, covering Turkey to Japan and then some. You can’t really generalize about Asia, although many times when Westerners say “Asia,” they really mean East and Southeast Asia. Even then, you’re looking at wide variances.

In Thailand, it’s not a case of women will shake your hand but men will. It’s a case of no one shakes hands. A lot of times Thais like to shake my hand to show me how “modern” they are. But I’m not sure I’ve encountered many places over here where handshakes are common, be it with a man or a woman.

For Muslems you should wait for the lady to initiate - so that includes any of the muslem majority countries…

An American “friend” kept patting my head, after I’d told him to stop. I finally told him, “touch my head again and I’m not talking to you ever again.” He did. We would meet at the gaming club every Saturday for two more years; I never spoke to him again.

There’s very, very few people who are allowed to touch my head, and then either by reason of their profession or because they’re old enough to be called “venerable”. Pat it, nobody - ever.

Someone told me several years ago that Australians don’t particularly like to shake hands. I want to know how true that is, if it’s a certain age group, a certain segment of Australians. I hope someone can enlighten me on this point. It could be utter nonsense as well. I look forward to your feedback.

Dude …

Where are all these weird arse questions coming from?


Perhaps in the 1950s, but certainly not today. Grave insult? Ridiculous, even historically.

Utter nonsense, either today or in the past.

Thanks Lord Mondegreen for clearing those questions up.

Thanks everyone. Very helpful feedback.

Yeah, I’ve been wondering the same thing.

Back in the 90’s I was in Brazil talking to some scuba divers. They were making OK signs to each other as they got ready to dive and then were quick to apologize and explain to me that it was an official scuba sign so it was OK for them to do it. From their attitude I was surprised they didn’t drown from giggling every time they used it underwater.