Did you know that 50-80% of all communication is non-verbal? Learning common Czech hand gestures can help you communicate better (for more tips see our article 15 Easy Ways to Speak Better Czech). And while we hope you’ve mastered ordering “dvě piva” with your thumb and forefinger, you might give these others a try:
1. The Head Tap
Tapping the forehead repeatedly with an open hand indicates that the speaker thinks an idea (or person) is stupid.
2. The Open-Hand Shake
This gesture indicates that a person is in big trouble. If said to children, it is often accompanied by, “bacy, bacy, bacy!”
3. The Finger Waggle (A.K.A. “ty, ty, ty”)
A raised index finger pointed upward and shaken several times also indicates that a person is in trouble and is typically accompanied by the exclamation, “ty, ty, ty!”
4. The Prayer
Putting your hands together to beg for something is a fairly standard gesture in many countries. Here, to emphasize the desperation of the plea, people will rub their hands together as though warming them.
5. The Air Slap
When cross or wanting to tell someone off, raising an open hand just above the shoulder, as if to slap, and shaking it will do the trick.
6. The Finger Rub
A more teasing way of expressing to someone that they have done something mischevious, is to hold out one index finger and stroke the index finger of the opposite hand over the top of it and say, “kýš, kýš!”
7. Let me think…
An index finger to the upper lip, usually off center to the same side as the hand used, or a touch with the same finger to the cheek, shows that a person is thinking or finds a situation curious.
8. Drink, Anyone?
Making a fist and extending the thumb and pinkie then bringing the thumb to the lips is another way of asking “Do you want a beer?”
9. The Sideways Punch
The signature move of the hapless Czech cartoon duo Pat and Mat, this gesture of accomplishment or success requires a person to punch the air very lightly with a horizontally posititioned fist. (Pat and Mat say, “a je to” which means “It’s done!”)
10. The Thief
Turning an open, upward facing hand, down, and slyly moving the hand toward the hip as though slipping something in a pocket is a gesture that’s used when talking about stealing.
11.The Lucky Grip
Holding your hand in a closed fist with the thumb tucked inside is a way of wishing someone good luck. This gesture’s meaning lies in the expression “držet palce”, which literally means “hold the thumbs” and is the equivalent of crossing your fingers.
12. Planting The Antlers
To fans of loud music, an extended index and little finger is a sign of devotion to the heavy metal gods. Here, the gesture represents antlers and an insult that comes from the saying “nasadit někomu parohy,” or to plant antlers on someone. If a man has antlers, his wife or girlfriend is unfaithful. It’s also used at football games when the crowd disagrees with the referee’s decision, and by school children who use it in a mocking way to say “get lost.”
13. Slapping the Fist
Slapping one’s palm over the top of the fist is typically an obscene gesture related to sex.
14. Raising the Finger
Despite what former Prime Minister Topolanek said in 2007 when he gave the middle finger to the Lower House of parliament, to Czechs flipping the bird does not mean you think someone is number one: it means a raised middle finger.
If you’re considering a course to learn the Czech Language, you can find a great selection right here.
Have we missed any crucial Czech hand gestures?