The inverted v-sign is a version of one of the most popular hand gestures: the v-sign. It is done by raising and parting the first and second fingers are, while clenching the remaining fingers and keeping the palm facing the speaker. The palm can face inwards or outwards which can alter the meaning.

A popular theory regarding the inverted V-sign goes back all the time to when England and France were at war. The English longbowmen were very feared and considered to be the best archers. When English archers were captured the French cut off the index and middle finger of the hand in order to render them useless as archers should future battles occur. As a crude form of psychological warfare the English Longbowmen showed these two fingers to the French before battle in order to show that they were able to kick their ass on the battlefield.

Let’s have a look at different countries and what the inverted v-sign means in different countries:

Australia – grave insult

Canada – grave insult (rarely used)

China – Not used.

France – Two.

Germany – Generally means peace (rarely used). In Freiburg and Black Forest region the V-sign with the palm facing the speaker is an insult and considered very vulgar to use.

Greece – Two.

Ireland – grave insult

Italy – Not used.

Japan – Common sign used that is intended to portray an acceptable level of cuteness when posing for photographs.

New Zealand – Another rude sign for the fingers (middle finger). Commonly seen used by drivers out the side window when someone has forgotten to indicate, and accompanied by the horn and some unmentionable words.

Russia – Many people would understand this as ”victory” (because of western films etc), but they don’t use this sign.

Spain – Victory, achievement.

Sweden – Not used.

Turkey – Not used.

United Kingdom – grave insult

USA – Peace. Palm-facing-inward is more ”hip-hop”.

Please note that meaning of gestures varies among various parts of countries and also among cultural groups and between generations.

Happy travels!