Meaning of Most Used Gestures and Facial Expressions and Body Language in Turkish Society

As is known, the messages given with or without conscious by forehead, brow, eye, mouth and lip are referred to gesture, the messages given with use of head, hand, arm, fingers, foots or all body are called facial expression. Turkish people also utilize gestures and facial expression frequently in daily life.  In order to state each feeling, situation and opinion, nearly at least one gesture and facial expression exists. Although some used gestures and facial expressions may be universal, some of them pertain to Turkish society.

If you know the meaning of these gestures and facial expression, you do not have any difficulty in making contact with people. Besides, you also preclude the problems which will occur due to misinterpreting gestures and facial expressions. Then, let us look at most used gestures and facial expression in Turkish.

Putting hand on heart

Putting hand on heart or towards chest region is a frequently used gesture in Turkey. This gesture which has the meaning for greeting is also utilized to thank at the same time.

For example, you eat and one of your friends has come. When you offer to order meal to this person, if this person put his hand on his heart, know he thanks you and is full.

Opening Two Hands Skyward

Raising two hands together in a way to look towards sky is a gesture seen especially in Muslim countries. People raise their hands in a manner palm looks towards sky in praying. Meaning of this gesture is to wish to be forgiven in praying to God and the belief he will not reject hands. In brief, hands are opened skyward while praying and after end of praying, hands are made touch on face.

If one hand is opened in a way palm is look towards sky and shaken slightly rightwards, leftwards, this carry meaning like “too much”. For instance, when you ask one of your friends how many goals he has scored during the football match in that evening, if he makes such gesture, know your friend  has scored a great many goals in that evening.

Raising Thumb

Raising thumb is one of the universal gestures which are also seen in Turkish society and carry meanings like “all right, okay, successful, very good” etc.

Making V sign is also utilized in Turkish society. It is thought to have a political meaning.

Kissing Fingertips

If you see person who combines and kisses his/her fingertips, it means this person is pleased with himself/herself. Person who is pleased with the meal he/she eat, the environment where he/she has been, the news he/she has heard may do gesture of kissing his/her fingertips. Let us state that this gesture is frequently seen in Italian society too.

Writing on Air

In eating in a restaurant, if you see people who combine their index finger and thumb and pretending to write on air, do not be surprised. It is a typically used gesture to ask the bill from waiter in Turkish society.

Again, if the movement of mixing glass is made with the same fingers, this also means to ask tea from waiter.

To take Thumb and little Finger to Ear

If one of your friends make such gesture to you in a noisy place where it is not possible to transmit his/her voice to you, he has intended to say “I will make a phone call to you, answer phone      “. If we look closely, when fingers are in this position, they take the shape of phone.

Shaking Head Up and Down

Shaking head 3-4 times have various meanings. Depending on case while it carries meaning of approval, it may also have the meaning of threat like “I will bring you to book for that”, to understand difference, it is required to look at other gestures and facial expressions too.

Shaking Punch

A person who makes his hands punch and shakes them 3-4 times firmly means he/she has reached a thing he/she desires too much. Person who rejoices after scoring goal by the team he/she supports, takes the grade he/she wants from exam may make this movement.

Expat Guide Turkey

Expat Guide Turkey is a news website that shares important events in Turkey and news concerning foreigners in Turkey. It also contains a guide to undiscovered places, city and district about Turkey.

One Comment

  1. What does it mean for Man A to take man B’s hand and place it to his ( Man A”s ) forehead . My Turk neighbor’s father did this to me

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