The Pinky Finger Isn’t the Middle Finger in China & Here’s Why

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
Learn why the middle finger is a rude gesture in ChinaYou've probably heard the rumor that holding up a pinky finger in China is the same as showing someone your middle finger in the United States. But is this rumor true? We've debunked...
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You’ve probably heard the rumor that holding up a pinky finger in China is the same as showing someone your middle finger in the United States. But is this rumor true? We’ve debunked this common tale in this article and provided plenty of intel on what the middle finger actually means in China—keep reading to learn more!

Things You Should Know

  • Showing someone your middle finger is considered extremely disrespectful and offensive in China.
  • While the middle finger has the same meaning in China as in the US, the gesture isn’t used as often.
  • Holding up a pinky finger in China is not the same as flipping someone off in Western culture.
Section 1 of 4:

Is the pinky finger the middle finger in China?

  1. In China, the pinky finger isn't the same thing as the middle finger.
    Contrary to popular belief, holding up a pinky finger in China isn’t equivalent to flipping someone off in Western culture. The pinky finger isn’t considered offensive in Chinese culture but can have a negative connotation. In some instances, showing someone your pinky finger means you think they’re weak or a loser, while most of the time, it means nothing at all.
    • Let’s say you’re in a tense disagreement with someone. They might show you their pinky finger to say sarcastically, “Yeah, right.”
    • As a general rule, pointing at people with a single finger in China is a big no-no, especially pointing with the pinky finger, as it’s a sign of disrespect.[1]
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Section 2 of 4:

What does the middle finger represent in China?

  1. Step 1 In Chinese medicine, the middle finger is linked to the heart meridian.
    The heart meridian consists of the heart, diaphragm, and small intestine.[2] It’s believed that the middle finger is a direct channel or branch to the heart meridian. Because of this, acupuncture is often used on or near the middle finger to heal swelling in the face and chest, hot flashes, chest pain, and insomnia.[3]
    • Similarly, people often meditate with the middle finger up to promote peace, harmony, and balance.
  2. Step 2 For some Chinese, the middle finger is a connection to the universe.
    For those who follow Hinduism, the middle finger is coined the “heavenly finger.” They believe the finger is a direct connection to a higher power and will often hold it up during meditation to ward off negative energy.[4]
  3. Step 3 Some believe the middle finger helps ward off sickness.
    For the Chinese that follow Buddhism, the middle finger is used alongside the thumb in the Karana Mudra to rid the mind of negative energy and ward off evil.[5]
  4. Step 4 In Taoism, the middle finger promotes awareness.
    Taoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy that preaches unity and harmony between humankind and the universe.[6] In this religious belief, followers raise their middle finger while meditating to open their minds' eye and create positive energy.
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Section 3 of 4:

Western Culture vs. Chinese Culture

  1. Step 1 In Western and Chinese cultures, the middle finger is offensive.
    Showing your middle finger or flipping someone off in the United States and China evokes the same emotion: anger. More often than not, people give someone the middle finger to disrespect or insult them—it’s a hostile gesture.[7] They’re likely angry or frustrated by them.
  2. Step 2 The middle finger isn’t used lightly in China.
    In Chinese culture, the middle finger isn’t used as often as in Western culture. For instance, in the United States, many use the middle finger as a mild, silly insult at friends to say they’re annoyed. In China, people are more likely to shake their heads than flip someone off when they’re annoyed or frustrated.[8]
    • In other words, the middle finger isn’t something that can easily be brushed off in China like it is in the US. It’s considered an extremely disrespectful and rude insult that shouldn’t be taken lightly.[9]
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Section 4 of 4:

What’s the equivalent to the middle finger in China?

  1. There isn’t a perfect equivalent to the American middle finger in China.
    While there are plenty of offensive and obscene gestures used in Chinese culture, there isn’t one that directly correlates to the act of flipping the bird in Western culture. Some say that placing a thumb between the middle and index fingers is the closest offensive gesture to a raised middle finger.[10] While others say slapping the top of a closed fist is the most vulgar and disrespectful thing you can do.

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