Head bobble

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The head bobble, or Indian head shake refers to a common gesture found in South Asian cultures, most notably in India. The motion usually consists of a side-to-side tilting of the head in arcs along the coronal plane.[1] A form of nonverbal communication, it may mean yes, good, maybe, ok, or I understand, depending on the context.[2][3]


In India, a head bobble can have a variety of different meanings. Most frequently it means yes, or is used to indicate understanding. The meaning of the head bobble depends on the context of the conversation or encounter. It can serve as an alternative to thank you, as a polite introduction, or it can represent acknowledgement.[3]

Head bobbles can also be used in an intentionally vague manner. An unenthusiastic head bobble can be a polite way of declining something without saying no directly.[3]

The gesture is common throughout India. However, it is used more frequently in South India and Sri Lanka.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kavita Pillay (30 January 2006), How to Tilt Your Head Like an Indian, World Hum
  2. ^ Seth Stevenson (27 September 2004), "Actually Liking Stuff", Trying Really Hard To Like India, Slate
  3. ^ a b c Sharell Cook (9 April 2020). "What is the Meaning of the Indian Head Wobble?". TripSavvy. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  4. ^ Craig Storti (2007), "The Indian "Yes" Head Gesture", Speaking of India: Bridging the communication gap when working with Indians, Intercultural Press
  5. ^ Chad Lewis (2008), Successful Communication in Multicultural Environments (PDF), Intercultural Focus

External links[edit]