Understanding and Using French Gestures

France, Paris, Marais District, cafe terrace on Rue Vieille du Temple
MAISANT Ludovic/hemis.fr/Getty Images

If you've ever been to France or watched French movies, you've undoubtedly seen French people performing some familiar gestures as well as a few unfamiliar ones. While some gestures are vulgar, others are as innocuous as shaking or nodding one's head.

In any case, it is as essential to understand this French "sign language" as it is any vocabulary. These pages include photos, explanations, and register ratings for 45 gestures.

Top 10 French Gestures

Among the dozens of gestures and facial expressions in these lessons, there are ten that really stand out.

French Gestures by Register (what is register?)

Note that some gestures have different names and are thus listed more than once.

NormalInformalFamiliar
Use with anyoneUse only with people you tutoie Use only with close friends
A peu prèsAlors, làAïe, aïe
Baiser la mainAu poilBarrons-nous
C'est finiBisesBisque !
ChutBofCamembert
J'ai du nezBouche cousueÇa pue
On a sommeilC'est nulC'est pas donné
ParfaitComme-ci, comme-çaClapet
PardonDélicieuxCoup dans le nez
RépétezFaire la bise / le bisouDu fric
Se serrer la mainFaire la moueFerme-la !
SilenceGallic shrugIl est cinglé
TéléphoneJe le jureJe m'en fous
Se tourner les poucesJ'en ai ras le bolMon œil !
Un, deux, troisS'en jeter un derrière la cravateOn se tire
 MagnifiquePied de nez
 Motus et bouche cousueQue dalle !
 La moueQuelle barbe !
 NulVerre dans le nez
 On boit 
 Passer sous le nez 
 Poil dans la main 
 Qu'est-ce qu'il chante, là ?Vulgar - Offensive
 Ras-le-bolUse with extreme care
 RienLe bras d'honneur
 ShrugCocu
 Sous le nezVa te faire foutre
 Victoire 
 Zéro