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People from other countries share 14 'obvious' signs that someone is an American

"Americans lean on anything they can while standing around…"

american tourists, american culture, americans abroad

Some American tourists enjoying the sights

Americans have a style and personality all their own, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just noticeable when they travel aboard. Americans often stand out because of their outgoing personalities. They are friendly and enjoy having casual conversations with strangers.

This is an endearing trait to a lot of people in more reserved cultures, although it can also come off as a little brash.

An American characteristic that isn’t quite endearing to people in other countries is that they can be rather loud. In Europe, one can always notice the Americans in the restaurant because they can be heard from across the room.


A Reddit user named Frosty-Ad3575 wanted to know the specific ways that Americans stand out when traveling abroad, so they asked the AskReddit subforum: “What’s an obvious sign that someone is an American?”

The post was popular, receiving nearly 6,000 responses in just 6 days. The most popular ones described how Americans' unique personalities, style of dress, dental hygiene and body language make them easy to spot.

Here are 14 “obvious” signs that someone is an American.

1. Posture

"Apparently, the CIA trains American agents to not lean on things if they go undercover in foreign countries because Americans lean on anything they can while standing around." — Clown1998

"I bet MI6 trains British agents to lean on everything if they go undercover in America because Americans lean on anything they can while standing around." — KingoftheMongoose

2. The date

"MMDDYYYY." — LowRevolution6175

3. Distances are different

"Anything under 4 hours is 'close by.'" — Grey-Canary

"Everything in Europe is around the corner if you're from the US. I can drive the whole day and not leave my state, but in Europe, I can pass through 4 countries in that same time frame." — JayHitter

4. They're polite to servers

"In the touristy cafe-restaurant I worked at:

If they asked me for the nicest spot we had

If they asked me my recommendation without seeing the menu first

I would walk to the table, and they would say right away ‘hey, how are you doing?’ This one threw me off a lot at first. Why is this person asking me how I'm doing?? I'm just there to take the order. I got used to it, and I think they found my awkwardness cute.

They would ask my name when I greeted them and took their order.

I'm Northern European." — Muc_99

"It’s under-appreciated just how polite, friendly, and sincere Americans are in general. It blew my mind the first time I came to the US, and I love that my children are growing up with those same values." — Irishweather5000


5. The water bottles

"I was told, 'Americans carry water bottles around like they're worried they'll never have access to clean water ever again.'" — Kosher_Dill

"I don't care what anyone says. If you think carrying a water bottle when walking a lot is weird, you're probably slightly dehydrated all the time and are just desensitized to it. You seriously need to drink water frequently if you want to be ideally healthy." — Tan11

6. Smiling

"I was in Germany this past summer, and I realized smiling at everyone you make eye contact with is very American. When I went to London on the same trip, they seemed less weirded out by it but would awkwardly return the smile. I was taught to always start with a disarming smile. Never realized it was American." — 12ozFitz

7. "More ice, please."

"I spent a year in Europe completely iceless to the point I forgot that was a thing. I stopped at a bar in Chicago fresh off the plane and not only did I get free tap water, but water with ice. I instantly felt at home." — Outside-Crezz8119

8. Personal space

"As an American man, I’ve been told repeatedly by European and Asian friends that we simply take up space (not by being fat) as though we’re entitled to it. Men in other countries apparently don’t claim the same personal space we do." — Potomacan

9. White teeth

"It’s even more bizarre that they assume we have braces or bleach our teeth because they’re straight and white. I have naturally straight white teeth. I brush them twice a day so they stay white. I don’t do anything special to them, but I remember being in London and some similar-aged students literally making fun of me for my teeth… it’s true that they don’t naturally look like headstones in an ancient graveyard, but there’s no need to make fun." — DPretilloZbornak

10. Casual dress

"My friend went to Germany recently, and what people said about Americans is you can spot them a mile away because they’re the ones wearing pajamas in public. Apparently, in other countries, at least Germany, they dress a little more formally and in less baggy clothes than we do in America." — MarcusWahlbezius

11. Baseball hats

"Baseball cap... even on an infant riding in a pram." — SyntheticOne

12. Shoes

"Americans are shoe snobs (they don’t think they are, but they are). Setting aside wealthier business types, Americans generally wear more on-brand, on-trend, high-quality shoes than others." — Mouflony

13. They're loud

"That was my first thought. Americans yell at each other in normal conversation in public. I noticed it years ago in Europe, and now I can’t stand it in the US." — SucccotashOther277

14. Occupation matters

"Immediately asking someone what they do for a living when meeting them. Our jobs and work are our entire identity." — Bealzu

"I hate that about American culture. I'm an American and recently became a SAHM, so I don't have an answer to 'What do you do for a living?' Half the time, I add the caveat, ‘Oh, my last job was with Apple,’ so that I'm not written off as an unemployed ‘loser.’ But it really is dumb to determine a person's worth by what they do in order to afford food and shelter." — WassupSassySasquatch


This article originally appeared on 1.4.24


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