Gestures are non-verbal cues that often denote a certain meaning. They have been passed down from generation to generation as a symbolic way of sending a message — hidden or not — without using words.

The gestures we use today also has a long history. They have been used in many different occasions and historical events. Some have evolved into new messages, while others have been used for centuries with the same meaning.

The handshake

The handshake can be traced as far as the Ancient Greeks. It was used to denote equality and a level of comfort with each other. This can be seen in paintings of the Greek goddess Hera and Athena in one of the columns in the Olympian Parthenon. The painting depicts both goddesses shaking hands signaling their equality and peace harmony with each other.

The thumbs up

Believe it or not, thumbs up did not originate with Facebook’s like button. This gesture can be traced back at least as far back as the Roman Coliseum where gladiators fought each other, the Emperor would signal the fate of a fallen fighter. Known as verso police, this hand gesture was used to pass judgment over a gladiator’s combat. The meaning of both thumbs-up and thumb-down has been a subject of debate to scholars for a long time.

The salute

One theory about the salute hand gesture can be traced back to medieval times, when troops used a metal helmet with a visor. Inspecting officers would require soldiers to raise the visor so they can identify the person wearing the helmet. Another hypothesis about its origins can be attributed to 18th-century soldiers who wore flat hats. Their helmets made it difficult to greet each other, so they invented a snappy movement by raising their hands to their heads and quickly moving it to their side.