Why Is it Rude To Point At Someone?

“Pointing the finger”, as the old saying goes, is more often than not associated with thinking someone is guilty of something.

That’s why, in most places today, to point at someone is considered highly rude and unnecessary.

Read on below and learn exactly why it’s rude to point at someone!

Is it Rude to Point At Someone?

We’ve all done it; you’re out with friends and see someone doing something crazy, or maybe notice someone wearing an outfit you really like, and without even thinking about it you instinctively point at them.

But, then it happens: the person you’re pointing at looks over and notices your finger extended directly toward them. Regardless of your harmless intentions, the person of interest automatically feels scrutinized.

Most of the time, the person being pointed at automatically sees your finger-pointing as rude.

How Rude Is it?


Out of 1 to 10, pointing at someone rates a full 10 on the rude meter. That’s because, even if you don’t have rude intentions, the action itself is seen as rude by the person you are pointing at. 

In many cultures, the only time it isn’t rude to openly point at someone is if you are asked to point someone out, out of a police lineup. 

Why is it Rude?

Pointing your finger at someone is typically seen as rude because it has been associated with “blame” and “judgment” for centuries. In the person’s mind that you are pointing at, you might as well be in 18th-century New England jutting your finger at them while screaming “Witch! Witch!”.

Other Options to Do Instead

There are several other options to do instead of pointing at someone. Remember, it doesn’t matter that you have good intentions, pointing fingers is generally seen as rude no matter what.

Instead of pointing your finger, try one of these ideas on for size:

  • Nod in the persons directly
  • Point the person out verbally
  • Point your toe at them, and bend over to tie your shoe
  • Take a photo instead of pointing

Common Questions

Is pointing a finger always a rude gesture?

In today’s global culture, finger-pointing is most often considered a rude gesture. That’s why you should find other creative ways of pointing someone/something out if you must do so. Try nodding, or verbally pointing at people instead.

What does it mean when someone points their finger at you?

The thing is, most times, we’ll never know what someone is thinking when they point their finger at us, especially if we don’t end up having a conversation with them (which, in most cases, just isn’t going to happen). In reality, the person could be pointing because they think they know you, they like the way something about you looks, or something perfectly harmless. But, in the same breath, they could easily be pointing at you for a rude reason.

What culture is pointing the rudest?

Finger-pointing is highly frowned upon in most countries today, though it is considered the rudest in Asia. In China, Japan, and Indonesia, pointing your finger at someone is seen as rude on the same level as walking up to someone and smacking them in the face.