In sign languages, handshape, or dez, refers to the distinctive configuration of that the hands take as they are used to form words. In Stokoe terminology it is known as the DEZ, an abbreviation of designator. Handshape is one of five components of a sign, along with location (TAB), orientation (ORI), movement (SIG), and facial-body expression. Different sign languages make use of different handshapes.
Not all handshapes occur with every orientation, movement, or location: there are restrictions. For example, the 5 and F handshapes (the approximate shapes of the hand in fingerspelling 5 and F) only make contact with another part of the body through the tip of the thumb, whereas the K and 8 (AKA Y) handshapes only make contact through the tip of the middle finger, and the X handshape only with the flexed joint of the index finger.
^a Sign-language names reflect the region of origin. Natural sign languages are not related to the spoken language used in the same region. For example, French Sign Language originated in France, but is not related to French.