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The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:14:13 pm »
Just out of curiosity, I'd like to confirm something. I think Koreans misunderstand the crossed fingers "good luck" sign.

Today, my CT and I taught from the "Elementary school English 6" textbook, lesson 2.
I struggled to keep myself from cringing when I saw the robotic dialogue from the video clips on the CD. I saw one of the kids, on the video clip, show the other the crossed fingers when wishing good luck to his friend.

I think we're all familiar with the crossing of the index finger and the middle finger sign.
I'm not 100% sure, but I think Koreans incorrectly interrupt this as the western way for telling someone good luck. I've seen it being employed in tense situations (obviously it's just another means to cope with anxiety, like biting the fingernails or fidgeting), but it's not necessarily a sign you show someone when you want to wish them luck. Am I wrong?

It concerns me, a bit, since it's in every Korean textbook I've worked with. I think it's just something you do yourself, when wishing for a favourable  outcome. Any thoughts?


  • glb0b
  • Expert Waygook

    • 601

    • July 06, 2010, 03:02:56 pm
Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 08:34:18 pm »
Maybe it depends on where you come from. Where I am from, crossing fingers to say good luck is quite normal.


Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 09:17:41 pm »
Yeah, it goes with the saying "i'll cross my fingers for you" or "i'll keep my fingers crossed" in order to wish someone good luck in something.
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Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 09:36:48 pm »
Yeah I've heard "fingers crossed" or "I'll keep my fingers crossed", but nobody's come up to me and shown a good luck sign.


  • taeyang
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    • September 08, 2010, 08:35:10 am
    • daejeon
Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 06:54:41 am »
normal to me too - is it a british thing?
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Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 07:20:58 am »
I guess it depends on the context.

I always thought of it primarily as a sign for expressing best wishes.

Like, saying "I'll cross my fingers for you" as the same as "Break a leg!"

However, I've also seen it as a way of expressing your dishonesty or intention of joking around. Like, if you make a promise and cross your fingers it means that you don't intend to keep that promise.

I'm from Toronto, so maybe it's used both ways there?


  • kyndo
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    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
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Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 07:42:09 am »
Yes, when I was young, crossed fingers while making a promise negates said promise. I crossed my fingers a lot back then. ;D

Also, where I was from, crossing fingers for luck was generally only done for yourself: I've never  heard of people crossing their fingers in order to wish other people luck.

But then, as with most superstitions, there's probably a lot of regional variation so I'm not at all surprised that some people use it in a slightly different fashion.


  • thunderlips
  • Hero of Waygookistan

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    • June 07, 2012, 10:01:55 am
    • South Korea
Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 08:40:37 am »
That is so strange now that I think of it. yes we cross our fingers for good luck AND to signify we are lying or knowingly breaking a promise. So weird. Im from the east coast USA so maybe it is regional, but so strange now about the dual meanings ..... :-[

Also regionally speaking instead of rock scissor paper we shoot odds or evens, much classier.


  • bmacdow
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    • September 05, 2010, 02:18:20 pm
    • Jeju
Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 09:21:42 am »
I've always used crossing fingers (physically crossing them and/or saying "fingers crossed") more in terms of hope and not really luck, but I suppose in a general sense I would pair it with "good luck."  I personally wouldn't put it in the same category as lucky things like a horseshoe or 4-leaf clover, but rather a symbolic gesture of hope. 

On a side note, I also remember being a kid and having it cancel jinxes and promises; funny how it can work both ways.   


  • kyndo
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    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
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Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2013, 10:08:02 am »
On a side note, I also remember being a kid and having it cancel jinxes and promises; funny how it can work both ways.

Making unfortunate promises kind of is a jinx. That's why I had my fingers crossed when I signed my EPIK contract!  ;D


Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 10:31:28 pm »
Yup, it bothered me more than it should have done. There is a nuance of difference between good luck and fingers crossed but I'm at a loss to explain it. Thank goodness I'm not an English teacher. Oh.

My biggest textbook gripe so far has been a culture snippet about all Westerners wearing shoes inside their homes. Not that I've been round everyone's houses in America but I guess it's pretty uncommon nowadays. I'll try not to lose too much sleep over it this year though.


  • madison79
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    • October 19, 2010, 01:26:04 pm
    • Interweb
Re: The crossed fingers "good luck" sign?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2013, 11:53:27 pm »
If it's out in the open it's good luck to me but behind the back means double cross.  I'm from USA.

It's -ev to deal with some people.