Gestures in Sicily / La Gestualità dei Siciliani

Update: We have developed an app with 81 Sicilian gestures! See the note at the end of this post.

In Sicily gestures are used as an additional language for a long time. Sicilians are able to communicate without words! They're talking with hand signs, sometimes in combination with other parts of their body. Some examples:

"Duci duci!"

Italiano: Al bacio. Dolcissimo!
English: Sweet as a kiss.
Deutsch: Zum Küssen. Einfach süss!
繁中 (Chinese):  甜姐兒 !

"Sti dui filíanu"

Italiano: Questi due hanno una storia amorosa.
English: They're having a love affair.
Deutsch: Diese beiden haben ein Techtelmechtel.
繁中:  他們倆有曖昧….


"Ma chi ci 'cunti? Ma chi capisci chi vai cuntannu?"

Italian: Ma che cosa mi racconti? Ma che scempiaggini dici?
English: What nonsense are you talking about?
German: Was erzählst du mir da? Was redest du für einen Blödsinn?
繁中:  你在胡說八道些什麼 ?


"Ti scanti!"

Italian: Hai paura! Fifone sei!
English: Scaredy-pants! You're frightened. You're chicken-hearted..
German: Du machst ja vor Angst in die Hosen! Du hast ja Angst! Du Angsthase!
繁中:  嚇傻了。


"Trincasti trincasti!"

Italian: Alzare il gomito. Hai bevuto troppo!
English: To have one over the eight. You guzzled!
German: Einen über den Durst trinken. Du hast zuviel getrunken!
繁中:  這個手勢特別指的是喜歡喝個爛醉的人。


Wiki-definition of the term "gesture": A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication or non-vocal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of, or in conjunction with, speech. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body. Gestures differ from physical non-verbal communication that does not communicate specific messages, such as purely expressive displays, proxemics, or displays of joint attention. Gestures allow individuals to communicate a variety of feelings and thoughts, from contempt and hostility to approval and affection, often together with body language in addition to words when they speak. (...)

Fabio Oliveri: «La Gestualità dei Siciliani», illustrata da Jasmin Carnabucci. Illustrierte Gebärdensprache der Sizilianer. First edition, Sicilian Tourist Service, Palermo, 1990 (out of print).
Giuseppe G. Pitrè ( – Italian, English): Usi e costumi, credenze e pregiudizi del popolo siciliano, in four volumes, Palermo, L. Pedone-Lauriel, 1889, (Vol. II, p. 340-377 "I gesti").
Vincenzo Requeno: L'arte di gestire con le mani (, Sellerio editore Palermo, 1982 (out of print).

Update 8/20/2014 Chinese

Sicilian Gestures app!

Learn 81 Sicilian gestures with our app! (
The gestures are explained in six languages (ITA, ENG, DEU, CHN, ESP, TUR), the meaning is spoken by a native Sicilian speaker and the app is free and contains no ads!

Update 4/8/2022 

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