Fist bump

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For the celebratory gesture performed by a single person, see Fist pump.
President Barack Obama fist-bumps Make-a-Wish child Diego Díaz

A fist bump, Originally called Respect in Jamaica and later the UK, (also called power five,[1] dap, fist pound, touch, bones, spud, or brofist) is a gesture similar in meaning to a handshake or high five. A fist bump can also be a symbol of giving respect. It can be followed by various other hand and body gestures and may be part of a dap greeting. It is commonly used in baseball and hockey as a form of celebration with teammates, and with opposition players at the end of a game. In cricket it is a common celebratory gesture between batting partners. It has even worked its way into the drug dealing culture. In many poor neighborhoods in the US, the police would stake out well known drug infested areas looking for the low level dealers to pass their drugs to the customers in what would eventually be called a "hand-to-hand sale". This was obviously named because the transaction involved the buyer passing money to the dealer, and then the dealer passing drugs to the buyer; all done by hand. All the police had to do to obtain multiple arrests was stay in a hidden position where they could still observe the transactions, then arrest the drug buyers when they were returning home. After the police had sufficient arrests, the dealer would then be arrested also. Since the officers had to be a distance away from the scene, they couldn't distinguish what exactly was being passed in the exchange but they still had probable cause for a stop and frisk. Most of the stops did end up in arrests for possession of drugs, but some people were stopped and searched just because they exchanged a handshake with an old time friend who had become a drug dealer. After many stops and searches of people who weren't drug buyers, people stopped shaking hands with possible drug dealing friends and started giving clearly obvious fist-bumps in case any police were watching. By fist bumping, it was clear that no exchange of anything was possible. Eventually, everyone started doing it as a cooler, more modern, and more sanitary alternative to the handshake. FYI, later add ons to the fist bump such as simulated explosions after doing the fist bump, were definitely not considered cooler or innovative in most US neighborhoods.


Merriam Webster Dictionary: a gesture in which two people bump their fists together (as in greeting or celebration)[2]

The gesture is performed when two participants each form a closed fist with one hand and then lightly tap the front of their fists together. The participant's fists may be either vertically oriented (perpendicular to the ground) or horizontally oriented. Unlike the standard handshake, which is typically performed only with each participants' right hand, a fist bump may be performed with participants using either hand.


Cuban baseball player Bárbaro Cañizares bumping fists with a teammate in 2009

The "fist bump" or "pound" can be traced as far back as the late 1800s and early 1900s to the boxer's handshake as a way to greet when hands are gloved, or to Jamaica where it was used as an informal greeting.[citation needed] Fist bumping behavior has been observed in chimpanzees, according to a book published by Margaret Power in 1991.[3]

Smithsonian researcher LaMont Hamilton suggests that the dap originated during the Vietnam war as a modified form of the Black Power salute, which was prohibited by the US military.[1]

Time magazine wonders if it evolved from the handshake and the high-five. They cite knuckle bumping in the 1970s with basketball player Baltimore Bullets guard Fred Carter. Others trace the gesture to the Wonder Twins, minor characters in the 1970s Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoon Super Friends, who touched knuckles and cried "Wonder Twin powers, activate!".[1]

In early June 2008, the Fox News Channel ran a news piece about a fist bump of Barack Obama and his wife at the end of one of Obama's meetings in his presidential running. In it, hard news anchor E. D. Hill said the gesture may be a "terrorist fist jab".[4] Fox later apologized for the term.[5]

In light of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the Dean of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Tom Feasby, suggested that the fist bump may be a "nice replacement of the handshake" in an effort to prevent transmission of the virus.[6] Similarly, a medical study has found that fist bumps and high fives spread fewer germs than handshakes.[7][8]

Other instances[edit]

  • Myron Lowery, acting as mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, fist bumped the Dalai Lama during his visit to Memphis.[9]
  • U.S. President Barack Obama has been reported to be a common user of the fist bump when greeting others.[10]
  • The crew of STS-135, the last Space Shuttle flight, did a round of fist bumps on the flight deck shortly before launch.
  • Howie Mandel often uses the fist bump, especially due to suffering from mysophobia.[11][12]
  • Dion gave Paul Simon a fist bump on stage during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary concert.
  • PewDiePie, the most subscribed user on YouTube, uses a "brofist" as the official greeting to all of his subscribers and can be seen brofisting the camera at the end of each video.
  • Ali G is regularly seen giving the greeting, which is popular amongst UK lovers of hip-hop culture, where it is also nicknamed "nudging" and "spudding".
  • In the 2006 film The Sentinel, star Michael Douglas fist bumps fellow Secret Service agent Eva Longoria toward the end of the movie, wishing her good luck in her S.S. career.
  • In the manga and anime series Naruto, the character of Killer B uses fist bumps with people close to him, such as Naruto Uzumaki, as a means of showing companionship, communicating, and choreography during his rap.
  • In the DreamWorks Animation movie Mr. Peabody & Sherman the title character Mr. Peabody claims to have invented the fist bump.
  • The Shield, a professional wrestling stable composed of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns displays a triple fist bump as their signature pose.
  • In the Disney Animated movie Big Hero 6, the protagonist, Hiro Hamada introduces his healthcare robot companion Baymax to the fist bump to which Baymax responds with his trademark catchphrase "Ba-da-la-la-la-la-la", in which, the gesture had a twist in the end, where after the fists got bumped, there was an imitation of "explosion", as to where the catchphrase came from.
  • "Alien Nation" TV series and movies 1988 to 1997. The Newcomers would touch knuckles in respect.
  • It is a recurring important gesture in the manga and anime series Naruto, especially as way of combining chakra.
  • The anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff from the PBS NewsHour also ended many events like the recent Republican & Democratic Conventions of this year 2016, with a fist bump on the RNC, and in the DNC was a double fist bump.
  • In 2016, the fist bump is closely associated with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.


  1. ^ a b c Hamilton, LaMont (September 22, 2014). "Five on the Black Hand Side: Origins and Evolutions of the Dap". Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Retrieved September 13, 2016.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "time" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ "fist bump | a gesture in which two people bump their fists together (as in greeting or celebration)". Retrieved 2015-04-29. 
  3. ^ Power, Margaret (1991). The Egalitarians – Human and Chimpanzee: An Anthropological View of Social Organization. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-40016-3.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Fist bump can pound out flu transmission
  7. ^ Los Angeles Times (July 28, 2014). "Fist bumps, high-fives spread fewer germs than handshakes, study says". Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  8. ^ ABC News. "Health News & Articles – Healthy Living – ABC News". ABC News. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Dalai Lama starts US tour with fist-bump". ABC News (Australia). September 23, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ "The Fist Bumper in Chief". Politico. August 23, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Betty White Learns From Howie Mandel: Fist Bump Lessons On 'Off Their Rockers'". Huffington Post. February 2, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Germs: 'No Deal' for Host Howie Mandel". ABC News. November 24, 2009. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 

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