In North America the Aesop fable about the tortoise and the Hare is well known, and glyphs of a tortoise (turtle) and hare (rabbit) are understood to represent varying speeds.

Is this generally the case cross-culturally?

  • 4
    The flaw there, however, is that the turtle finished the race faster than the hare.
    – DA01
    Sep 26, 2013 at 22:09
  • 1
    Ha - very true. But the fable works as a story because it's based on the assumption that rabbits = speed and turtles = slowness.
    – Matt
    Sep 26, 2013 at 22:14
  • Hare != Rabbit. Is the any reason you need to write in hieroglyphs?
    – Brendon
    Sep 26, 2013 at 23:59
  • 1
    Which cultures are you thinking of? Sep 27, 2013 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


Perhaps in spite of Aesop's fable they might be understood, but only as long as the users are familiar with rabbits and turtles and their relative speeds IRL. You also have to keep in mind that some cultures hold various animals in either very high regard, or as despicable and unclean, and you wouldn't want that to influence the way your users experience your site/app/whatever-the-context-is. I don't know the specifics for all cultures + turtles and rabbits, so you'd want to do user testing for sure.


To give you a good example, RockShox suspension for Bicycle uses icon of a hare and tortoise to denote the speed of the rebound for their suspension.

Slower (tortoise) or Faster (Hare)

To answer to your question, I believe tortoise (turtle) and hare (rabbit) are understood to represent varying speeds cross culture.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Same as a Honda lawnmower. Turtle and Rabbit. Sep 27, 2013 at 9:33
  • 1
    Same as Endomondo sports tracker app - your fastest split for a run or a bike ride marks the time with a rabbit icon, and your slowest split's time is marked with a turtle icon. Sep 27, 2013 at 14:17
  • 3
    Technically your image doesn't depect a hare/rabbit... It's clearly a mythical jakalope :)
    – Jamesh
    Sep 27, 2013 at 19:51
  • Surely both animals should be running in the same direction otherwise there is no comparison of speed. :)
    – Dom
    Mar 26, 2018 at 3:00

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