What Does The 'Rock On' Hand Sign Mean in Other Cultures?

September 18, 2019

Photo by Getty Images


The "rock on" sign, (aka the "devil horns") is synonymous with all things rock. Hundreds and thousands of fans will throw this gesture high in the air to show their support for the band making their evening. But some might wonder where the hand sign came from.

The man responsible for introducing the sign into the rock world is the late Ronnie James Dio. Despite rumors that the symbol supports Satanism and/or devil worship, Dio says he learned it from his Italian grandmother, who used it to "ward off the evil eye". Because Ozzy Osbourne often used the peace sign onstage, Dio preferred using this gesture to connect with the audience during his time with Black Sabbath.

Even though "rock on" is the most mainstream definition of the hand gesture, countries like India, Italy and Peru would use it as a positive symbol to ward off evil and bad luck.

However, the same symbol can be interpreted as offensive in some cultures like Cuba, Columbia, Argentina, Greece, Italy, and Portugal. If you make the "rock on" sign and move it back and forth, that means cuckoldry. In Italian, Spanish and Greek, the word for "cuckold" is the same as "horned."

In the practice of Neopaganism, this sign represents the horned god of Wicca. This is allegedly the origin of the misconception of "devil worship" associated with the sign.

If you go to the University of Texas, the "Hook 'em Horns" is used as the slogan for the school.