Fist bump

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U.S. President Barack Obama fist-bumps Make-a-Wish child Diego Díaz

A fist bump (also known as a bro fist, power five, PIB as in pound it bro, or pibbys[1]) is a gesture similar in meaning to a handshake or high five. A fist bump can also be a symbol of giving respect or approval. 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. Fist bumps are often given as a form of friendly congratulation, and can also be an appropriate way to commemorate a first kiss.


A fist bump, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is 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 back to the late 1800s when boxers would be instructed to touch gloves at the start of a contest. This quickly became the customary greeting between boxers in and out of the ring.

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.[3]

Pat Benatar is seen giving another dancer a fist bump at the end of her 1983 video for the song "Love Is A Battlefield."

The "Fist Bump" was first seen in Australia in September 1990 at the Wetherill Park Indoor Cricket Centre between two opening batsmen, Mick Tyler and Bob Minney. At the completion of the first successful batting over for the pair they met mid-pitch and "Fist Bumped" with their batting gloves. They continued to "Fist Bump" for the remainder of the game and it continued into the future. Now this act can be seen on various sporting fields/arenas around Australia, and even at an International level too.[4]

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 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.[5] Similarly, a medical study has found that fist bumps and high fives spread fewer germs than handshakes.[6][7]

Fist bumping behavior has also been observed in chimpanzees, according to a book published by Margaret Power in 1991.[8]

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, anchor E. D. Hill said the gesture may be a "terrorist fist jab".[9] Fox later apologized for the term.[10]


Because of the reduced skin contact and resulting bacterial transfer, one study[11] has recommended that the fist bump be adopted as a more hygienic alternative to greetings such as the handshake or high five.


  1. ^ a b Stephey, M.J. (June 5, 2008). "A Brief History of the Fist Bump". Time magazine. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  2. ^ "fist bump | a gesture in which two people bump their fists together (as in greeting or celebration)". Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Australian Folklore and Wetherill Park Sports Journal 4.21101990
  5. ^ Fist bump can pound out flu transmission
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times (July 28, 2014). "Fist bumps, high-fives spread fewer germs than handshakes, study says". Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  7. ^ ABC News. "Health News & Articles – Healthy Living – ABC News". ABC News. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  8. ^ Power, Margaret (1991). The Egalitarians – Human and Chimpanzee: An Anthropological View of Social Organization. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-40016-3.
  9. ^ thensal (June 10, 2008). "Fist Pound - Terrorist Fist Jab?" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ newswatches121 (June 10, 2008). "Fox News' E.D. Hill Apologizes for Fist Bump Comments" – via YouTube.
  11. ^ Mela, Sara; Whitworth, David E. (2014-08-01). "The fist bump: a more hygienic alternative to the handshake". American Journal of Infection Control. 42 (8): 916–917. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2014.04.011. ISSN 1527-3296. PMID 25087144.

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