36

(Moving my comment to a full-fledged answer) As well as designating someone/thing, a pointed finger may also be an accusatory gesture. Without any context, the person being pointed at (or people witnessing you pointing at people) might believe you’re accusing instead of designating, and being accused is widely felt as defaming (however justified or not. The &...


18

Pointing your finger at someone is seen as either an adversarial gesture or threatening one. FWIW: in some Asian cultures, it's insulting, as you only point your finger at an animal. About the adversarial/threatening gesture: the finger, as shown straight, stiff, pointed towards a person (not an object), is perceived as the symbol of a weapon (knife, lance, ...


8

However, [pointing your finger at someone to identify them] is also frowned upon by society. Why is that? I am French (you tagged france) and pointing at someone to identify that person is not impolite here. It is typical. French tend to use their hands a lot and pointing at someone (or at a direction) instead of identifying it verbally (what they look like,...


8

It's just a superstition, nothing more. You shouldn't think too much about it. While trying to "explain" superstitions may be interesting from an ethno/anthropographic point of view, trying to rationalize them is silly and counterproductive -- because you may miss the whole point: when people (pretend to) take issue with someone else's innocent ...


5

Pointing at people is a problem in some circumstances but by no means always. Talking with a coworker about tasks is right on the cusp. Like laughing, pointing "at" people is often bad but it doesn't have to be. There's no direct pointing equivalent to laughing "with" people but "to" might serve. If you're in any kind of charge ...


2

why is it that society finds it rude to point at people? What's the harm in doing that? There have been many useful answers. My answer may not be entirely new but I shall try to introduce new factors. Culture Gestures are generally culture-dependent. For example showing the soles of your feet/shoes is very disrespectful to some cultures and not to others. I ...


2

In Ireland this is also not considered rude unless your infringing on the persons personal space or pointing in an aggressive manner (sharp movement, other signs of outward aggression). I've never encountered anyone who found pointing rude, and I work with folks from across the world.


1

Most of the answers given already concentrate on the first part of your question, why it can be considered rude to point to people you are talking to. I think most of them are excellent answers, although I don't think the sentiments expressed in those answers are held universally. Because of this I will concentrate on the second part of your question, why it ...


1

What's the harm... ? Imagine that you see some people in the distance and somehow you know they are talking about you, but you can't hear what they are saying. I think most people will feel uncomfortable with that. You would want to know what they are discussing. If someone is pointing at you, that suggests that you are the subject of something the pointer ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible