Through the ages in Russian, this particular gesture – which involves sticking one’s thumb through the index and middle fingers – has been the equivalent of sticking your middle finger up at someone. For example, in the 19th century, a notorious brawler called Yakubovich was depicted with his fingers in a shish, causing a major scandal.
The Brazilian and Portuguese equivalent of shish is considered a lucky gesture, while in Germany it has sexual connotations and is very offensive. In Japan, Korea, and China, this gesture also means copulation – just as it did in Russia. But now, it’s not offensive in any way. Shish is sometimes used as a gesture to drive off evil spirits; mostly, it
“I’ve had enough” or “I’m fed up with this” – that’s what this gesture means, and no, it’s not related to food in any way. You can’t use it to say that you’re full – your host would instead think that you don’t want any of his food ever again.
“When an accountant’s baby is born, the first thing he learns to do is to put his thumb, index, and middle fingers together,” a joke goes. This gesture is almost obsolete now and used by the older generations, but during Soviet times it was omnipresent: if you want to ask for or offer a bribe, to show that you have no money or to ask for some – this gesture does it.
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