Finally there’s an emoji for that Italian hand gesture

Finally there's an emoji for that Italian hand gesture
How the new 'Pinched Fingers' emoji might look. Image: Emojipedia/Twitter
Messaging your Italian friends is about to get that much easier with a new emoji representing one of Italy's best-known hand gestures.

No more searching for a meme or GIF: the palm-up, fingers-closed hand gesture will appear among the new batch of emojis set for release in 2020.

Officially known as the 'Pinched Fingers' emoji, the Italian hand gesture is one of 62 new icons expected to make it onto devices by September or October this year.

The emoji dictionary Emojipedia defines the icon as “an emoji showing all fingers and thumb held together in a vertical orientation, sometimes referred to as the Italian hand gesture ma che vuoi [what do you want]”. 

The gesture will be familiar to pretty much anyone who's ever interacted with an Italian: usually performed while flicking the wrist up and down, it can mean anything from “are you serious” to “come on” to “what the hell”.

It is included in Emoji 13.0, the latest set of standardised emoji, following a request filed by US-based Italian journalist and entrepreneur Adriano Farano and two others, Jennifer 8. Lee and Theo Schear.

“Thanks to Italian immigration and the growing popularity of its way of life, Italian gestures are unique and bear a cultural meaning both in Italian speaking areas and worldwide such as to deserve a place as an emoji,” they argued in an official submission to the Unicode Consortium, the body that sets universal emoji standards.

“Adding the 'what do you want?' emoji would not only be a useful addition for the Italian diaspora abroad who is still proud of its origins. It would also, more broadly, offer users a much needed expression to engage in animated conversations by adding a touch of humour.”

Unicode's samples of how the Italian hand emoji might look on different systems. 

While uses vary, they suggest the gesture chiefly expresses “disbelief to what our interlocutor is pretending us to do or be, unless our interlocutor clarifies his/her intentions; modesty towards a compliment, as to say: 'what are you saying, it’s not true?'; sarcastic surprise when our interlocutor is exaggerating his/her arguments and we ask him/her to come to the point”.


While Farano identifies 'Pinched Fingers' as “the most important and visually distinct” Italian hand gesture, some may be hoping that it opens the door to the inclusion of more Italianisms in future updates. 

Italian developers have already created a separate app, Neapolicons, that provides users with images of gestures common in southern Italy.

Do you have a favourite Italian hand gesture? Sign to let us know in the comments below.

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