Stop pointing at things with your finger like some kind of barbarian—use your elbow instead! The ultimate in high-class manners.


Pointing with an outstretched index finger is a common gesture used by humans to direct another human’s attention.

The Issue:

Since pointing is so widespread, a human being pointed at will usually also recognize the gesture. Depending on the circumstances, pointing may be considered to be rude and accusative.

For example, imagine that you are with a friend in the supermarket pasta aisle, and you observe a strange snake-like figure with a human head. This situation could happen to anyone, and many people would instinctively point at the humanoid snake (Figure 1) and ask their friend “what’s that?”

Fig. 1: Pointing with an index figure is easily recognized by the being-pointed-at-target.

However, the humanoid snake probably gets pointed at quite frequently, and might become enraged at this rude gesture. If only there were a more subtle way to direct a person’s attention!


The solution is simple; a person can, instead of pointing with a finger, just casually make their elbow into a ”V“ shape that points at the subject of interest (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: This “elbow-V” pointing method accomplishes the same goal as the normal pointing in figure 1, but is much less obvious. In this example, the humanoid snake remains oblivious to the pointing.

This more subtle form of pointing is far superior!


Due to its rarity, elbow pointing is discreet and polite. But be sure to re-evaluate this situation frequently—if elbow pointing becomes too popular, then it will lose its clandestine qualities.

PROS: Classes up the “pointing” gesture and brings a higher degree of politeness to the world.

CONS: It’s less precise than index-finger pointing. This could be a problem if you want to point out a specific humanoid snake in a group of them at a supermarket.