A facepalm (sometimes also face-palm or face palm) is the physical gesture of placing one's hand flat across one's face or lowering one's face into one's hand or hands. The gesture is often exaggerated by giving the motion more force and making a slapping noise when the hand comes in contact with the face. The gesture is found in many cultures as a display of frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, shock, surprise or sarcasm.
According to Macmillan Dictionary, the word "facepalm" first appeared around 2006, though another source has an earliest citation of 2001. The gesture itself is not of recent origin and, although common, is not culturally universal. Images of stockbrokers facepalming have also been widely used in the media to convey the dismay associated with poor financial performance, and a wide variety of regrettable film, business, and political decisions have been described as facepalms or "facepalm moments". According to Oxford University Press lexicographer Susie Dent, this versatility is one of the reasons that the word has been linguistically "successful". This word was added to the English Oxford Dictionary in August 2011, marking it as a legitimate word in the English language.
An example of its use in popular culture is seen in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, where an image of Jean-Luc Picard expressing frustration using this gesture became famous, making it into an internet meme. As a meme the face palm was established in 2004 by being added to the urban dictionary website. Since then it has gained widespread popularity as a meme or comment image to portray the users frustration or disappointment of a certain topic. Expanding far from the original Urban Dictionary entry. This idea has spread like a virus with no peak in sight. If a search is done then you will see a multitude of images of this gesture. ranging from animated figures to Jean-Luc Picard doing this motion.
As a meme this concept has spread itself far and wide over the World Wide Web. In a type of Darwin-esque survival scenario a meme is an idea that strives to reproduce just as a virus would. Except for the fact that it is not the body which gets used for reproduction it is the mind. Memes strive to reproduce and spread by using human thoughts and word of mouth spread. The internet has rapidly accelerated that process. With sites such as Reddit and Digg which help the spread of memes faster than ever. Their voting system only enforces the survival of the fittest or in this case funniest which allows a meme to continue on and been seen by the most amount of people.
This gesture has its own entry in the TV Tropes website  where its usage has been recorded in all forms of media including television, movies, video games, and real world examples. Since its inception the face palm has gained widespread popularity as a meme or comment image to portray the users frustration or disappointment of a certain topic. Many sites such as Reddit use this image frequently and in many different ways. Usually used as a finisher to a story or joke that has been deemed dumb or had an obvious punchline. This motion is oftentimes found in Japanese entertainment or anime and manga. This is more likely than finding the gesture in any live action work.
Headdesk: "When a character expresses their overwhelming frustration by banging their head (often repeatedly) against something nearby." Oftentimes a desk or a wall. Where as the "headdesk" gesture is often done successive times to emphasize the motion, the facepalm gesture is often a singular act.
Face Fault: When shocked or surprised, often by an absurdity or non sequitur, the listener may fall over onto his face, his limbs in a twisted mass above him. In its typical form, the character in question has just heard someone else say something so incredibly stupid that it, quite literally, floors them.
Headslapper: "A mistake of obvious stupdiity", a facepalm can be seen as a pun on this noun when taken in the sarcastic sense.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Facepalms.|
- Maxwell, Kerry (4 Jul 2011). "facepalm". BuzzWord. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Taylor, Kimberly Hayes (9 Aug 2011). "Stressed brokers can't keep their hands off their faces. Why?". The Body Odd. MSNBC. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Kamer, Foster (5 Aug 2011). "Wall Street’s Facepalm Friday: World’s Front Pages Inevitably Feature Finance’s Great Faces of Agony". The New York Observer. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Vaux, Rob (30 Jun 2011). "Biggest Transformers Face Palm Moments". Mania. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Paczkowski, John (21 Nov 2011). "Double FacePalm: HP Blew Billions on webOS". All Things Digital. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Rawlinson, Linnie (28 Apr 2010). "'Bigotgate' goes viral as UK PM says *facepalm*". UK Election Blog. CNN. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Evans, Jon (30 Jul 2011). "Technology + Politics = Facepalm". TechCrunch. Retrieved 22 Nov 2011.
- Malik, Shiv (23 Nov 2011). "Lexicographers cram 'squeezed middle' into word of the year slot". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 Nov 2011.
- “Facepalm.”OxfordEnglishDictionary,n.d.http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/ definition/american_english/facepalm.
- Laidre, M. E. (2011). "Meaningful Gesture in Monkeys? Investigating whether Mandrills Create Social Culture". In Brosnan, Sarah Frances. PLoS ONE 6 (2): e14610. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014610. PMC 3032724. PMID 21311591.
- Tom Chatfield (28 March 2013). Netymology: From Apps to Zombies: A Linguistic Celebration of the Digital World. Quercus Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-78087-994-9. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
- “Know Your Meme: Rage Comics.” Accessed January 17, 2014. http://www.viddler.com/embed/183d0c96/?f=1&autoplay=0&player=simple&loop=false&nologo=false&hd=true.
- “Main/Face Palm - Television Tropes & Idioms.” Accessed January 27, 2014. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FacePalm.
- “Main/Headdesk - Television Tropes & Idioms.” Accessed January 27, 2014. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Headdesk.
- “Main/Face Fault - Television Tropes & Idioms.” Accessed January 27, 2014. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FaceFault.