More Argentine Hand Gestures

As I mentioned in a previous post on Argentine hand gestures, the people here are masters of the art of nonverbal communication. Nearly all Argentine speakers punctuate their conversations with animated facial expressions and/or gesticulations, in contrast with other cultures such as the Japanese, who tend to keep bold hand gestures to a minimum.

I thought it would be fun to highlight a few other commonly used gestures, one of which was discussed at length in the comments section of the other post.

Argentine Hand Gesture - Chin Flick by katiemetzI don't know./I have no clue.
[The chin flick: tilt your head back a bit and sweep the back of your fingers forward from under your chin.]

Unlike its meaning in places such as Italy, where the gesture can be considered quite rude, the chin flick – when used in Argentina – simply signals that the speaker doesn't know the answer to your question.

Argentine Hand Gesture - Behave or Else! by katiemetzBehave or else!/Be good or you're gonna get it!
[Place your hand at a 45º angle, and moving your hand from the wrist, make a short, back-and-forth chopping motion in the air.]

A useful gesture to let spouses/children/friends know they're skating on thin ice.

Argentine Hand Gesture - Hand Purse by katiemetzWhat the hell are you talking about?!/Just who do you think you are?
[Bring all of your fingers and your thumb together with your hand pointing upward. Move your hand up and down at the wrist.]

This hand gesture can actually mean a number of things. Here are some of the comments that readers made regarding its most common meaning and usage:

According to Gabriel from Live from Waterloo: "If you…move your hand up and down, then it means 'What do you mean?' or 'What the f*** is wrong with you?'"

According to Chris from In Patagonia: "…for when the hubs [husband] is way out in left field or just being crazy."

Other meanings for this gesture include:

To indicate that a venue was packed with people [Same gesture but shake your hand vigorously]

To show that you're scared [Same gesture but open and close your fingers]


A special thank you to my friend and English student, Laura, for demonstrating these hand gestures. We had a good laugh together during the photo shoot!

For more on this topic, check out my posts "Argentine Hand Gestures" and "Argentine Hand Gestures: World Cup Edition."

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