Finger snapping

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A video of finger snapping
Alternative snapping technique

Snapping (or clicking) one's fingers is the act of creating a snapping or clicking sound with one's fingers. Primarily this is done by building tension between the thumb and another (middle, index, or ring) finger and then moving the other finger forcefully downward so it hits the palm of the same hand at a high speed.

In culture[edit]

Pan, god of nature and the wild, and a Maenad dancing. Ancient Greek red-figured olpe from Apulia, ca. 320–310 BCE. Pan's right hand fingers are in a snapping position.

In Ancient Greece snapping of fingers was used by musicians and dancers as a way to keep the rhythm[1] and it was known with the words "ἀποληκέω" (apolekeo),[2] "ἀποκρότημα" (apokrotema)[3] (from the verb "ἀποκροτέω" - apokroteo, "to snap the fingers")[4] and "ἐπίπταισμα" (epiptaisma).[5] Finger snapping is still common in modern Greece.

Finger snapping may be used as a substitute for hand clapping. The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club has a long tradition of doing this. The club's history states, "The reason behind this (as legend goes) is you can't clap and hold a beer [at the same time]! Another possible reason is that snapping is less disruptive than clapping during speeches and announcements."[6] Finger snapping at poetry readings has become traditional.[7]

Snapping one's fingers abruptly and repetitively, often in conjunction with one or more spoken exclamations, is commonly employed in getting someone else's attention.

In music[edit]

In many cultures, finger snapping is a form of body percussion.

Sounds of a fingersnap also are sampled and used in many disparate genres of music, used mostly as percussion; the works of Angelo Badalamenti exhibit this in the soundtracks to, e.g., Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, as does the theme song from the television series The Addams Family & "The Andy Griffith Show Theme Song".

Persian variant[edit]

Beshkan (Persian: بشكن), also known as the "Persian snap", is a traditional Iranian finger snap requiring both hands. The snapper creates a crackling/clicking noise similar in mechanism to the normal snap but louder in practice.


There are two variations of the Persian snap. The most common of the two for a right-handed individual is as follows:[8]

  • Place hands together and rotate until the three right hand fingers are at the junction of the hand and fingers.
  • Rest the right middle finger on the left hand securely.
  • Then using the tension provided by the left thumb, snap the right index finger onto the gap between the junction and right middle finger.

The Persian hand snap found its way to the UK through the dexterous hands of British soldier Samuel Taylor, of Leeds, who had learnt the snap whilst stationed abroad and brought it back to England, where it eventually became a craze amongst school children.[9] Consequently, in some parts of Yorkshire it is often referred to as a Taylor Snap.[9]


  1. ^ Martin Litchfield West, Ancient Greek music, Oxford University Press, 199
  2. ^ ἀποληκέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  3. ^ ἀποκρότημα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  4. ^ ἀποκροτέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  5. ^ ἐπίπταισμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  6. ^ "University of Michigan Men's Glee Club || About | History_html_5". Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "How To Beshkan, when you feel you beshkant". YouTube. 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  9. ^ a b Hand Gestures. Amazon. 2017-02-12. ASIN 0674018370.