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I know "Hang Loose" means "Drop Dead" in the Netherlands, but what on earth does it mean everywhere else? It says its a surfing term, but what is its meaning? I'm guessing its waved at a fellow surfer to tell them to relax during their run? _____

  • Added 'gills' and 'timeout'. If anyone (Scottish or otherwise) knows the gesture that I called 'gills', maybe you can think of a better name! :-) Adambisset 14:32, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • I'm pretty familiar with Dutch culture, having lived in the Netherlands for 26 years, and I'm not aware of any meaning attached to the "Hang Loose" gesture, nor have I ever seen anyone make it. Marsvin 13:29, 2004 Nov 2 (UTC)
    • Same here, so I'm removing that reference. Junes 14:01, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Major changes - photos and indexing[edit]

PICTURES: I'm building a library of descriptive images (600x400px) for gestures. Notice some of them are like double-exposures where the starting position is 100% and the ending position is 33% transparency. The naming convention avoids culturally-specific language. Instead of "need money" I named it "gesture_fist_palm_up_with_thumb_and_index_finger_grinding.jpg" etc. ONTOLOGY: Gestures are hard to arrange in a simple way for an article with the widest use. I think we should use a combination of physical description and cultural meaning and make sure BOTH indexes are helpful.

Excellent job! -- Smerdis of Tlön 12:36, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Article structure ideas[edit]

Adam Kendon's journal Gesture covers topics listed below. I think these can flesh out the article and move it beyond quick write-ups of lewd gestures! :-)

  • the relationship between gesture and speech
  • the role gesture may play in communication in all the circumstances of social interaction, including conversations, the work-place or instructional settings
  • gesture and cognition
  • the development of gesture in children
  • the place of gesture in first and second language acquisition
  • the processes by which spontaneously created gestures may become transformed into codified forms
  • the documentation and discussion of vocabularies of "quotable" or "emblematic" gestures
  • the relationship between gesture and sign
  • studies of gesture systems or sign languages such as those that have developed in factories, religious communities or in tribal societies
  • the role of gesture in ritual interactions of all kinds, such as greetings, religious, civic or legal rituals
  • gestures compared cross-culturally
  • gestures in primate social interaction
  • biological studies of gesture, including discussions of the place of gesture in language origins theory
  • gesture in multimodal human-machine interaction
  • historical studies of gesture
  • studies in the history of gesture studies, including discussions of gesture in the theatre or as a part of rhetoric
Wikified, this might be:
==Social interaction==
==="quotable" or "emblematic" gestures===
===Conversational aids===
===Instructional settings===
===Gesture as a mating ritual===
==Gestures that become codified forms==
===Sign language===
===At work===
===Religious communities===
===Sporting events===
===Legal and civic settings ===
===Tribal societies===
==Cross-cultural issues==
==Animal interaction==
==Human-machine interaction==
==Academic issues==
===historical studies===
===discussions of gesture in the theatre or as a part of rhetoric===
===the development of gesture in children===
===Language acquisition and gesture===
===gesture and cognition===
===biological study of gesture===
===language origins theory===
==See also==
==External links==
==Further reading==

Pollice verso/recto[edit]

The article is clear that verso is down and recto is up. It however is not clear about which direction means "kill the loser". Can this be clarified please? Dysprosia 08:32, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

It is my understanding (albeit given from Latin classes some time ago) that which gesture meant which outcome is not known. --FOo 17:29, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Add "akanbe"[edit]

Akanbe (あかんべ) is the Japanese rude gesture of pulling down an eyelid and sticking out the tongue. It means a combination of mild insult and mockery. Often seen in anime movies.

Suggestions for divisions[edit]

I'm not sure if people are still willing to expand on scientific aspects of gesture (I'm not qualified/very interested myself), but perhaps in that case it would be better to have an article Gesture and an article Examples of gestures. In addition, the gestures should be divided according to country or cultural region/background, because I know probably 5 or so gestures in Dutch culture that I think are not universal, and this would be the same of course for many other cultures. Junes 14:01, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, this article really just a list. It should be split off into List of Gestures (see Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Lists.) Jeremykemp's ideas above see more appropriate for an article called Gesture. —Fitch 19:22, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

RFC: Illustrations[edit]

It's great that this page got illustrations somewhat recently. I want to expand on that, creating inline illustrations as I did for Mano cornuto that look like this, Image:Mano-cornuto-correct.png|15px , or this, Image:Mano-cornuto-incorrect-(I love you).png|20px. Hand signs don't need too many pixels, having them inline means no need to look aside to an illustration, and having hand signs as illustrations rather than as photographs removes the ethnicity of the hands.

I would probably give some indication of the other fingers, rather than just a siluette.

These are cool... IF you know how to make them. Large photos take up too much screen, but anything else seems too technical and time-consuming. Also, with inlines, how would you illustrate motions and larger gestures than hand-only? There needs to be a unifying structure for the illustrations that make them uncluttered for the layout and conducive for contributions from people with limited graphic skills, i.e. cropping and sizing. Posterizing, sizing down to inline and adding the markup codes is beyond the skills and/or interest of 99% of the possible contributors here.
How about a picture grid at top with numbers corresponding to entries below? jk 08:37, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Hang Loose/shaka is a dirty symbol[edit]

hang loose shaka is a dirty symbol in parts of India. It means "go screw". And some of the symbols given sometimes have other meanings in other cultures. So bewarned. when in doubt, talk. lol.--Idleguy 18:04, Apr 27, 2005 (UTC)

Pollice Recto/Verso[edit]

It is my understanding that, rather than signifying approval to kill the opponent, that the "Recto" gesture symbolized a drawn sword and the "Verso" a sheathed sword. I have postponed making such an edit until I can re-check sources.

I just checked, and found Nature Embodied -- Gesture in Ancient Rome by Corbeill, Princeton University Press (2003). This contradicts several detailed statements in the article, and I am now editing accordingly. For example, the gesture we call "thumbs up" is alternatively "verso pollice" or "infestus pollice", that is "turned thumb" or "hostile thumb." Corbeill also denies that this had positive connotations until the XX century -- this conflict with Morris should and will be noted. Robert A West 19:52, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

other gestures[edit]

Just bringing up some other gestures for potential inclusion:

1. 'Look at the time'/'What's the time?' Index and Middle finger of right hand held together with other fingers tucked in making a double or triple tap on the left wrist. It can either mean "Hurry up/You're out of time" or "Could you tell me the time?" depending on context and facial expression, the gesture is a reference to the customary place to wear a watch.

2. 'One moment' Index finger pointing straight up with rest of fingers tucked in and palm/wrist facing forwards (usually accompanied by eye contact). This is used to indicate that the user will shortly ('In a moment' or 'One moment') be ready to focus on whatever the reciever is attempting to draw his or her attention to. This is primarily used when the user is verbally engaged such as being on the phone or having a conversation.

3. 'Sipping Tea' This gesture is made by holding the tips of the thumb, index and middle fingers of the left hand together with the pinky finger extended outwards, the hand is then held up in front of the mouth and tipped towards the mouth, miming drinking from a tea-cup. Often the other hand is used as a saucer. This gesture is sarcastic in nature can be used to either mock people or activities, implying that they are overly polite, pointless or prissy.

WARNING: Offensive Language! 4. 'Dickhead'/'Cocksucker' These gestures are similar to the 'Wanker' in that the hand made into a cylindrical shape to simulate holding a penis. The 'Dickhead' is made by pointing the top of the hand towards the forehead and moving the hand alternately towards and away from the forehead. The intention is to infer that the target is a 'dickhead'. The 'Cocksucker' is similar to the dickhead but the hand is placed in front of the mouth and m0oved back and forth in a manner which is meant to simulate fellatio. This may be accompanied by sucking the cheeks in, poking one cheek out with the tongue in time with the hand gestures and/or sound effects. Depending on the context and intention they can either be humourous or insulting (or humourous and insulting). They are invariably rude.

5. 'Live long and prosper' A widely recognised pop culture reference to the Vulcan greeting from Star Trek. This is apparently well recognised in the west (or at least the Anglosphere) even by those who have not seen Star Trek itself. Almost always accompanied by the associated catchphrase.

Also an addition to the 'Bang Bang' gesture:

The same initial gesture (with either the thumb sticking up or folded down) can also be made with the hand turning up and down along the wrist joint to simulate recoil from multiple firings of a handgun. This can be performed with either one or both hands.

--I 08:01, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

where is the v-plus-tongue for cunnilingus?

There seems to be other rather universal and obvious gestures missing too, such as "silence/be quiet" with the index finger in front of the mouth, or just the basic waving of a hand meaning "hello". Clapping your hands is as much a visual gesture as an auditive one (which can work even silently). There are countless other gestures too, such as hitting the palm of your open hand with the other hand in a fist (having a confrontational meaning or a "I have made my decision" meaning depending on which part of the fist hits the palm of the other hand) or the gesture where you "pull down" something from above, meaning "I succeeded!" (often "yes!" or similar is said out loud). Some gestures instruct others eg. to move to some direction. Pointing to your own eye and then to somewhere else is an obvious "look there" (when saying so is not possible for some reason). A gesture of dismissal (usually innocuous and used in humoristical contexts, although could also be condescending) is with the palm down move the hand downwards as in throwing something away. Putting your hand slightly curved behind your ear means "I can't hear you" or similar. With the palm open and facing down, twist it slightly from one side to the other, meaning usually "approximately" or similar. Palm open and facing up, repeated movements upwards, meaning "stand up, get up". Showing with your hand the way, "this way please". Raising your hand a bit like in "stop" but usually closer to your body, meaning "not anymore, thanks" or "no thanks" or similar (when offered something). Wopr 01:13, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Why don't you just go ahead and add them? They all seem to fit in the article. Riki 07:50, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Please don't take my photo -gesture[edit]

What could you call the gesture, where you raise your hand in front of your face, palm outside, and turn your face away? That's the reaction you get when a person doesn't want their photograph taken. mtreinik 14:00, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

I wouldn't call that a gesture so much as someone attempting to avoid having their picture taken. —BenFrantzDale 14:14, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
It is definitely used as a gesture now, at least here in the US. (talk) 19:02, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Chinese number gestures[edit]

Should we mention the two hand gestures used in China to represent the numbers six and eight that happen to be the same as some of the gestures listed?

Six is represented as shaka (but the palm is forward) and eight is represented bang bang (although the thumb is not pressed down). Theshibboleth 03:03, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Go for it. I'm eager to either merge or expand on all of the really short sections on this page right now; I've already done so a good amount, but there are still too many subsections for one page to handle while making the info easily navigable; the TOC is huuuge. -Silence 03:06, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Add "tapping head"[edit]

tapping ones head with index finger to indicate thinking or to indicate that someone has had a good idea

Middle finger[edit]

I removed the thoroughly debunked explanation for the finger that relates to medieval archers. It's utterly false. See the Snopes article on the subject for a detailed explanation of why that couldn't possibly be the explanation for the gesture. Joshua Nicholson 05:17, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

I'd rather say this article is crap. In fact, the Frenchmen cut two fingers: middle and forfinger. Until today, you show both fingers in England. You should once travel to England and try it... -- (talk) 14:06, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

Vulcan Salute/Spocker[edit]

I returned the information that was removed by the anon. regarding the Vulcan Salute being called the spocker. There didn't seem to be any reason to take it down, though the previous paragraph did have a lot of unnessary information about the shocker. Alex Dodge 02:02, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Hook 'em Horns / Horns[edit]

These have been given separate entries, but they appear to be the same thing. Is there a difference between hook 'em horns and horns/corna (besides the meaning)? ... discospinster 19:34, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

la la la, i can't hear you[edit]

please to be adding.

How about adding the infamous new Scalia gesture?[edit]

...the one he disputed was not obscene after the Boston Herald said it was. - Reaverdrop 08:25, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

It's already in. By the way, the following

The gesture is commonly translated as “fuck you” when directed toward the interlocutor or otherwise as “fuck that/him/her/them,” but more precisely translated as “go get fucked in the ass.”

is patently false. That is the translation of "vaffanculo", not of the gesture. The gesture in itself means "I don't care". I'll rephrase and maybe make the section about the episode a bit shorter, as it's off-topic and should be moved to a page about Scalia perhaps. PizzaMargherita 08:50, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Done PizzaMargherita 16:10, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Actually we should have a completely separate article about Sicilian hand gestures, as I'm aware there are a good number of them. — Phil Welch (t) (c) 22:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

looks like someone updated the article to say that he made the "screw you" gesture and then lied to say it was the "i could care less". there is no source cited.
here's a version of the artcile with some more italian source material:
and here's the current version
the conclusion in the Scalia article (see last paragraph of discussion) was as follows:
"Scalia is accused of having made an obscene gesture, and responds with a denial which happens to be supported by independent photographic evidence. That is precisely what happened, and that is precisely what an NPOV reportage ought to say; the reader is left to their own devices to make up their own mind as to whether or not they believe Scalia's explanation of events, still less what they think of the altercation."
The current article here says:
"This gesture became the center of a controversy in March of 2006, when Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was photographed allegedly making the gesture to illustrate his response to his critics. Scalia later claimed that he used a different gesture, waving his fingers beneath his chin, a gesture translating to "I couldn't care less." For more details, see Antonin Scalia."
Not only does it conflict with the conclusions of the Antonin Scalia article, the Antonin Scalia article removed it completely as trivia.


Since when content dispute is vandalism? "Mooning" was added in good faith (not by me). And I think it's as much a gesture as the bending of the arm or the rolling of the eyes. So I vote keep. PizzaMargherita 07:59, 7 May 2006 (UTC)

That's arguable (and not that important to me)--the "vandalism" referred to other, obviously bad content that I cut out. — Phil Welch (t) (c) 08:41, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
Pointing towards one's self

New image[edit]

Could we please get another image for salute and replace the one with George W. Bush? People could draw comparisons between him and the other person. Thank you. Later!!! Chili14 (Talk) 22:52, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

I think you should leave your political views out of the discussion. Johntex\talk 00:00, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

I think the current (Green beret guy) shows the hand gesture clearly, so it is, without any political commentary, a better example of said gesture.

Perhaps add a still frame from the Bush "One Finger Victory Salute" video at Edison 23:52, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down- Roman Gladiators[edit]

In history class last year we watched something from The History Channel about gladiators. In that, it said that thumbs up meant the loser was saved, while something similar to a thumbs down (the thumb pointing toward the chest, representing a sword being jabbed through the heart) meant the loser was killed. Should this be added? Kate 22:46, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I have heard a similar story, which is that the gesture was given not in relation to the loser and whether he should live, but was given to the loser in relation to whether he had permission to finish off the victim or not. Therefore, thumbs up - meant, "yes, you may go ahead and kill him" while thumbs down meant "no, you can't killer him". However, we should find a notable reference before we add something like that in. Please see WP:CITE for what makes a good reference. One place you might look is where they examine urban myths and popular misconceptions. We may even already have the info here if you read articles like gladiator. Johntex\talk 22:57, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


How about finger over the lips to indicate silently to be quiet? Tertiary7 04:40, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Go ahead and add it, I'd say. Riki 17:54, 1 September 2006 (UTC)


What is the name of that gesture where you hit your forehead with your palm?-

Hugely significant aspect of gesture studies completely absent[edit]

There is absolutely no attention to the evolutionary history of the most universal gestures, how the evolution of gesture and language are realted, and the psycological reasons for gesturing in general and how that plays out in specific examples. The article only covers specific gestures, while not saying anything about braoder gestural patterns, like the openness or closedness of one's body, etc. I think the article should devote a lot of depth to this.

Here are some good sources:

The Body in Question: Talking With the Hands -E=Motion Newsletter

From mouth to hand: Gesture, speech, and the evolution of right-handedness


Gestures and Language:

Introducing GESTURE:

Adults and children develop gestures that mimic language:

Haha, and everyone here should watch this hilarious and intriguing video:

Panserbjørn 04:24, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Problem with beginning, pointing gesture[edit]

Ooops, this article gets off to a bad start. "Although some gestures, such as the ubiquitous act of pointing, differ little from one place to another..". Maybe in the USA pointing is done with a finger but in pretty much all of Asia this is a rude gesture. If you need to point you must use an open hand. I know this from personal experience but we need a source to cite. Does anyone know a reliable one? This is a field where there are many sources but many are unreliable.

CultureExpert 09:12, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Looks like nobody is going to answer so I changed this to say that finger pointing is rude in many cultures. Actually this is already noted on the Etiquette in Asia page. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:49, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

Mess to be fixed[edit]

Some time ago someone started splitting the article into a general-purpose one (this one) and the list/taxonomy of gestures strangely titled Type of gesture. Since then we have a de-facto widening fork of the two, not to say about the List of gestures (which is undermaintained, BTW). It is time to make some order here. Any reasonable plans, volunteers? I mean lets talk first a day or two before making any global moves. `'Miikka 20:49, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Here's a Gesture I've been wondering about[edit]

What's that gesture where you pull down your eyelid and stick you tongue out?--Mullon 02:19, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Head bobble merge to Gesture[edit]

I have affixed {{mergeto}} and {{mergefrom}} templates to Head bobble and Gesture#Head bobble. I have argued for this merger at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Head bobble; this AfD resulted in a 'Keep' decision with merge discussion deferred to article talk space. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 20:35, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

Indian Head Bobble[edit]

Having just returned from Bangalore where I had many frustrating encounters with this gesture, I think it is an extreme oversimplification to say it means "OK". According to the Indian guys I was working with, it means something along the lines of "message received and understood", but neither yes nor no (much the same as Westerners might say "yeah" or "aha" while listening, without actually expressing agreement). I suspect there may be more subtlties to it than this though - does it depend on context? Are there regional differences?

Can someone (preferably from India) contribute more on this? HairyDan (talk) 07:36, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

If one were to only use Bollywood or Indian themed TV shows as a clue, it certainly means more than 'OK'. My own observations are that it means many things. A sign of approval or agreement (which often accompanies the head bobble) is often the wrist flip with index, middle and ring fingers raised (bad description, but if you've seen it you'll know what I'm referring to - usually accompanied by अच्छा or अरे वाह!). Roger Ebert once described the head bobble thusly:
She makes that distinctive Indian head movement that is not a shake nor a nod, but a sort of circular combination of both. I have learned that it means, "Yes, probably, but one never knows."(1)
While this is meant to be humorous, it is not far off the mark. Like the word 'accha' it is, or at least seems to this Western Indophile, to be an almost all-purpose gesture, like many Western facial expressions - raised eyebrows and the like.
I apologize for not having any hard references, but this would best be left to a South Asian/Desi anyway. I merely wanted to concur with above statements. Khirad (talk) 04:43, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Morimoto et al. as source for "Greeting by nod"[edit]

The article had included as ref under Greeting by nod an external link to an archive file with the title "Recognition of Head Gestures Using Hidden Markov Models." Although I did not download and open the file, I assume it referred to a 1996 article by Carlos Morimoto, Yaser Yacoob, and Larry Davis of the same title. That article, however, does not actually state that a single nod of the head is used for greeting (though it does imply as much). Rather, that article summarizes the authors' research, an attempt to make a computer recognize four gestures which the authors label YES, NO, MAYBE and HELLO. The clear implication is that the authors understand a single nod to express a greeting, but they never explicitly suggest this. I have therefore removed the source, and will look for a more appropriate one. Cnilep (talk) 20:13, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Done. I have cited Kendon (1977), who mentions the gesture. Cnilep (talk) 20:28, 14 June 2009 (UTC)


Is there some kind of Etymology research for gestures? Like: are there contemporary gestures of which the original -literal- meaning is lost but which would be easy to grasp for people in the Middle Ages? For instance, the gesture for loser is today clearly related to the letter L as is Air quotes to actual quotes. Maybe in 500 years or so, everyone forgot about that original meaning but is still using these gestures in a (possibly changed) meaning. Nod (gesture) has some unsourced explanation (babies nodding when they want milk), and shrugging had a (doubted and removed) explanation.

Slightly related, is there an "official" difference between gestures like "I'm sad", "I'm angry" or "I'm thinking really hard about this" which can be used on purpose but are expressed unintended as well by 4 year-olds when they are sad or angry, and on the other hand the "cultural gestures" one has to learn (like nodding)?

Last question, do animals have these "cultural gestures"? Has someone ever tried to learn a chimp to strike his belly to signal hunger? (instead of pushing the "Hunger" button) Joepnl (talk) 23:49, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

User Jaibhim forcing pictures from his community into the article[edit]

User Jaibhim is constantly posting pictures related with a community he is affiliated to, hence the images have been removed under Wikipedia:Conflict of interest Wikipedia:Vested interestNickelroy (talk) 00:09, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

Nickelroy is vandalizing by removing Gesture photograph[edit]

Nickelroy is constantly vandalizing Wikipedia articles. This user never followed WP:BRD. This user is contentiously Wikipedia:Harassment doing for me. This user never stated particular reasons for removing following photograph which is very much relevant to this article. For removing any information follow WP:BRD because image fulfill wiki policies and very much relevant to this article.Discuss on talk page if image is irreverent for this article .

Pressing hands together and touching feets of enlighthened or elder person is common gesture in India. In a picture man pressing hands and women touching feets of the statue of Bodhisattva B. R. Ambedkar on Namvistar Din.

JAIBHIM5 (talk) 19:17, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

@JAIBHIM5: This article is already illustrated with pictures of gestures. The image that you have inserted several times gives no added value to this article. It appears to give WIKIPEDIA: Undue Weight to " B. R. Ambedkar on Namvistar Din" in the context of this article. I have removed it because WIKIPEDIA follows a neutral point of view policy and does not allow promotion. Please see WP:NOTADVERTISING, WP:UNDUE, WP:NPOV. Best regards JimRenge (talk) 16:44, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Questions about Improvement (verification, original research)[edit]

I would like to improve the article by working on some of the issues. Are there specific passages that need verification or that contain original research? Does anyone have any suggestions? If not, I would go over the article from start to finish and see what I can find. Thank you!--Johannawippich (talk) 14:00, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Kendon's Continuum[edit]

Hi all, I added in a section at the end of this article outlining Kendon's continuum. This was originally written for the Gestures in language acquisition page but I think it fits better in this page. Clfergus (talk) 22:20, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

Typology of Gestures[edit]

Much of the talk on this page is in regards to specific gestures, their meanings and uses, and whether they should be included in this page, and if so, how. I think much of the issue is that this page does not have a developed list of gesture typologies. There is some good work done in the Categories section, but it is incomplete. I'm going to add a fairly long section on typologies of gesture. This is based off of the 2015 Abner et. al. article entitled Gesture for linguists: A Handy Primer. I believe most, if not all, of the gestures listed on this talk page, can fit into the categories laid out in this research, and that many of these will serve as useful examples for the various categories. I will not do this work, as I don't want to encroach on someone else's gesture that is important to them, and risk misinterpreting it. However, I think a developed typologies/categories section will provide some useful organization for this page.

Please let me know if I am stepping on anyone's toes with this, I just want to help!PerfunktoryN (talk) 00:05, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

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