American Habits That Are Considered Rude Elsewhere

Tom Blank of Weird History explains why certain commonplace gestures, phrases, interactions, and habits in US culture don’t necessarily translate well in other countries.

You may have heard people use the term “Ugly American” before …As it turns out, that term is not actually a reference to physical appearance but stereotypes about uncouth travelers from the US. Whether or not that reputation is fair, it’s undeniable that some behavior that’s considered commonplace in America would get you escorted to the curb if you tried it anywhere else.

This includes hand gestures such as the middle finger, the peace sign, a handshake, and the okay sign. It is considered rude to ask about one’s job or mental health and eat in public in some places. Sending food back to the kitchen or asking for extra condiments at a restaurant is also considered rude. If traveling, it’s best to learn about the local culture before an inadvertent faux pas is made.

Whether it’s a gesture or word, rude things American tourists do can reinforce the host country’s negative perception of Americans, even if you’ve got the best of intentions. So brush up on these habits or American phrases that are rude in other places and you’ll have nothing to fear on your next holiday.

US Habits Rude Elsewhere

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.