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How do you call the gesture where you point at your head and make a circle or a few with your extended finger - when you want to imply someone, or some idea is "nutters" - something so ridiculous it's insane?

  • I'm afraid, there's no single word. You'll have to form a sentence for that. – Maulik V Mar 12 '15 at 4:44
  • @MaulikV: "Phrase request", I believe there is some "canonical" way of describing it. – SF. Mar 12 '15 at 5:06
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    Caveat: Gestures are by no means universally understood. This gesture may mean "you are crazy", but it may also mean "you are clever". A lot depends on cultural context. – Stephie Mar 12 '15 at 5:24
  • @Stephie: Probably so, but - at least in my culture - knocking your head with your finger there means "clever". A twirl, or twisting your finger ("tightening a loose screw") means insane. – SF. Mar 12 '15 at 6:04
  • @SF.: which proves my point: Knock on your forehead or temple in Germany and you may be sued for insult. Do this towards a police officer and find yourself in court. Expect to pay 750€. – Stephie Mar 12 '15 at 8:20
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According to Wikipedia, this gesture is called:

Cuckoo sign, touched or screw loose. In North America, making a circling motion of the index finger at the ear or side of the head signifies that the person "has a screw loose," i.e. is speaking nonsense or is crazy.


I will repeat my warning that gestures are rooted in their cultural context and may mean completely different things in other cultures.

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