You’ve probably noticed your teenager using some strange hand gestures, especially with their friends, and often in photos.
So just what are teens and tweens trying to SAY with these hand signs on social media anyway?
Do parents need to be worried, or are these gestures just innocent teenage fun?
Perhaps a little bit of both?
We scoured the internet and asked our own teens to decode some popular hand signals for us.
The good news is that some things haven’t changed that much since we were kids, but beware, a few of these are not exactly safe for work or little kids!
- V Sign
- Heart Hand Signs
- Hole / The Circle Game
- The Stop Time / Two Finger Touch Hand Sign
- Smoking Weed
- Drinking Alchohol
- Call Me or Shaka Sign
- New Call Me Sign That Teens Use Now
- I Love You
- Sign Of The Horns / Rock On
- Fist Bump
- Chef's Kiss
- You Ate It
- Eyelid Pull
- Talk to The Hand
- What Does Holding Up 4 Fingers Mean?
- What Does Ice In My Veins Mean?
- Plur Hand Signs
- Obscene Gestures
- Different Country Meanings
- Rude Hand Gestures
- Street Gang Hand Signs
- Other Types Of Hand Signs
Below is a list of urban hand gestures including meaning with pictures:
V sign emoji
This sign has several meanings, depending on whether you hold your two fingers up with the palm facing forward or backward.
Holding up forwards can mean Victory or Peace, as well as the number 2 or simply the letter V.
In the Second World War, the V for Victory campaign was started by de Laveleye in a BBC broadcast.
He suggested that citizens use the V as a rallying emblem to highlight their strength in numbers while awaiting their occupier’s weakness and failure.
They also used an audible V using its Morse code rhythm (three dots and a dash).
You might recognize the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony which has the same rhythm.
Many years later U.S. President Richard Nixon used the gesture to signal victory in the Vietnam War.
Protesters against the Vietnam War used this hand gesture as a sign of peace.
Hippies often flashed this sign (palm out) while saying “Peace”, so it became popularly known as “the peace sign”.
What Does Two Fingers Sideways Mean?
Two finigers sideways most often means peace or “peace out” to indicate that you’re leaving. It’s just a more urban form of the original peace sign.
However, according to the MailOnline, if you see a waiter using the sideways peace sign, they could be telling other staff that a VIP has arrived and needs special attention.
Heart Hand Signs
Made popular by Taylor Swift as a sign meaning something between “I Love You” and “Thank You” to her fans. The heart hand sign is a popular hand gesture with young teens to show appreciation to someone.
What Does The Half Heart Hand Sign Mean?
The half heart hand sign is often used on TikTok to say “I love you”. The hand gesture indicates a full heart with one hand because the other hand is holding the phone. You can also make a half heart with each hand and connect them to create the full heart.
The half heart sign on Tiktok is also used in the “him in person vs him over text” meme that shows guys are sweet in person but not as considerate when texting.
Korean Heart Hand Sign Meaning
The Korean heart hand sign means that you want to convey your love to a loved one. This hand gesture is created by crossing the thumb and index finger to form an imaginary heart shape above the two fingers.
You can even get a vinyl wall art decal of this cute Korean ‘Heart Hand Love Sign’.
Hole / The Circle Game
Although the pictured hand gesture may have different meanings to different people, it is most commonly used by youngsters in conjunction with “The Circle Game”.
It’s a sort of “made you look” prank that appears to be experiencing a surge in popularity.
This is a silly game teenagers play. The goal is not to look at it. If you do, you’re bound to get sucker-punched.
The Urban Dictionary explains the game as follows:
A game of peripheral vision, trickery, and motor skills.
The game starts out when the Offensive Player creates a circle with their thumb and forefinger, not unlike an “A-Okay” signal, somewhere below his waist.
His goal is to trick another person into looking at his hand.
If the Victim looks at the hand, he has lost the game, and is subsequently hit on the bicep with a closed fist, by the offensive player.urbandictionary.com
The thumb and index finger make an “L”, other fingers closed, with the palm facing the observer.
This one will probably be familiar, but in case you forget, “L” stands for a loser.
However, in Northern China, people use this hand gesture to show the number 8.
Children simply call the sign “this.”
The game is for players to get people to look at “this,” then ridicule them.
Just a silly game teens play.
The Stop Time / Two Finger Touch Hand Sign
When you want to stop time in its tracks, use the stop time hand sign.
I also read on Quora recently that this sign could also be used to indicate two penises touching, and would be used to gesture that what someone said sounded gay. So just be aware of this in case your teen is using this sign in this negative way.
Update: hand signs and their meanings are continually evolving and the latest meaning of the two fingers touching hand sign is used to show shyness or nervousness. This sign is used widely in TikTok videos and is like twiddling your fingers together while working up the courage to say what’s on your mind.
The two fingers together emoji is often paired with the wide-eyed smiley face emoji as well.
Place your thumb and forefinger together (as if holding a joint), with your other three fingers up in the air. When you bring your two fingers ‘holding the joint’ to your mouth and pretend to take a hit, this is a sign of wanting to smoke weed.
Hold your little finger up and your thumb pointing towards your mouth, with the three middle fingers curled inward. This gesture indicates drinking from a bottle and could signal drinking alcohol.
Call Me or Shaka Sign
Call me or Shaka Sign Emoji
With the thumb held near the ear and the little finger pointed at the mouth, the gesture is commonly understood to mean “call me”, as it resembles a handheld telephone.
The 🤙 “Call me hand” can also be interpreted as the shaka sign.
This uniquely Hawaiian Shaka hand sign is a gesture of friendly intent.
It’s most commonly used to convey the aloha spirit as a motion of greeting or thanks.
The Shaka can be used to mean “right on,” “hang loose” or simply “hello”.
New Call Me Sign That Teens Use Now
Most of us would recognize the ‘Call Me’ sign shown above, but a recent social experiment shows that most teens today, don’t use this sign anymore. With the shift to cellphone use, this hand sign has changed as well.
Watch this short video below to see what sign teens use today to indicate ‘Call Me’ instead.
I Love You
I love you emoji
Taken from American Sign Language, the ILY sign simply means “I love you.” It’s a combination of the signs for letters I, L and Y (I Love You).
What is the difference between 🤘 and 🤟?
The first one means “🤘Rock on.” The second one means “🤟I love you.”
Sign Of The Horns / Rock On
Sign of the Horns Emoji
A hand gesture raising the pinky and index fingers, on one hand, can refer to heavy metal, the devil, or encouragement to ‘rock on’. This sign is very commonly used at rock concerts.
However, don’t use this sign in Spain, Greece, or Italy. Known as Corna, this gesture implies to a man that his wife is cheating on him.
I found this awesome kit where your teen can make any hand gesture into a plaster mold and display it in his/her room.
The fist bump, sometimes called a “bro fist” or “power five,” is a subtle yet meaningful gesture used by teenagers to express enthusiasm and solidarity.
It’s almost like a silent high-five that symbolizes the close bond between friends.
This unassuming fist-to-fist touch is a gesture of mutual respect that has become a ubiquitous part of teenage culture.
The “Chef’s Kiss” hand gesture, or the “Mwah” signal, is a way for adolescents to communicate their admiration or gratitude for an individual or thing.
With an elegant tilt of the hand, teens can express their approval of something that is particularly delightful or satisfying.
The act of gently pressing the tips of the thumb and index finger together whilst puckering the lips says that something is so good, that it’s deserving of a kiss from a master chef.
You Ate It
The “You Ate It” sign consits of an open hand with the thumb touching the forehead (same as “Father” in ASL).
This is a game played by teens and the game is initiated when someone burps or farts.
Everyone within earshot puts their hand to their forehead using the “You Ate It” sign. The last person to make the sign is the person who “ate” it.
The eyelid pull gesture is when someone puts their finger just below their eye and pulls the skin down a little.
This gesture is quite versatile and can mean several things depending on the situation or the culture.
In the Mediterranean, signifies alertness, or a warning to be watchful.
In Spain and Italy, it’s mainly a warning to say “Watch out,” or, “I’m watching you.”
In Japan it indicates sarcasm but can also used as a taunt, often accompanied by sticking your tongue out.
It can also mean to throw “daggers,” a subtle yet potent nonverbal cue that is often employed by teens to convey disdain or disapproval. In this context it can be accompanied by a sneer or a scowl.
Talk to The Hand
The ‘Talk to the Hand’ sign is a gesture utilized by teenagers to show disregard for someone who is irritating or insignificant.
Usually used jokingly to express disinterest in what somebody has to say, this motion communicates that you consider the person unworthy of your attention or that their opinion doesn’t matter to you.
While it can be seen as disrespectful, it is also a way for teens to voice their feelings without being overly hostile or aggressive.
What Does Holding Up 4 Fingers Mean?
There are several different meanings for holding up four fingers, some common meanings include:
- A football game is nearing the fourth quarter
- Signal for help
- Rapper or gang sign
- Awareness of mental health issues
Four Fingers In Football
Holding 4 fingers up means “maximum effort” to indicate winning by giving 100% effort. Football players hold up four fingers when the fourth quarter of the game is near, and the most crucial 15 minutes of the game are about to be played.
The four fingers represent the statement that “The Fourth Quarter is Ours.” This gesture has been copied by many college (and high school) teams after being originated by the Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant-coached teams at the University of Alabama in the 1970s.answers.com
Signal for Help (Silent Danger or Domestic Violence Signal)
The domestic violence hand signal, which gained traction on TikTok, is a subtle way to show that you’re experiencing domestic violence without alerting your abuser.
First you hold up 4 fingers (hand up with palm facing other person), then tuck palm into thumb, and lastly fold fingers down over thumb.
The gesture, known as the “Signal for Help” hand signal, was created he Women’s Funding Network, a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping women and girls.
Why Do Rappers Hold Up 4 Fingers?
Rappers hold up 4 fingers to make the West Coast hand signal. The westside hand sign is used to show solidarity and respect.
This hand gesture is commonly used by rappers from the West Coast, such as Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre.
As per Urban Dictionary, “4’s up” is a hand gesture used in Florida to signify one’s neighborhood or block. It can also be interpreted as a representation of North Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Oakland Park or Broward County.
Awareness Of Mental Health Issues
In 2017, the poignant gesture of holding up four fingers in a selfie served as a powerful symbol for raising awareness about the ubiquity of mental health issues.
The “4’s up” trend, sparked by the BBC’s #1in4 campaign, aimed to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourage open conversation.
The campaign saw a plethora of celebrities, such as Kirsten Bell, Sarah Silverman, and Tom Hardy, joining in and using their platform to bring attention to the issue.
Though the campaign has since ended, the enduring image of four fingers held high serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing fight to destigmatize mental health and support those who struggle with it.
4 Fingers Sideways Meaning
4 fingers sideways means “don’t do it.”
What Does Ice In My Veins Mean?
The “Ice In My Veins” hand sign usually means that someone is “cold-blooded” or cool under pressure. The hand gesture is often used by like NBA players and other sportsmen to show that they can handle the pressure in the last few minutes of the game.
As with many hand gestures, the meaning of two fingers pointing to the veins in your arm has different meanings which change over time.
Many years ago it used to mean shooting up drugs.
Lately, TikTokers put two fingers on their arm when they’re explaining or revealing something truthful about themselves. Using the hand gesture, it appears as though they are checking their pulse, which implies that they are being completely honest with their followers, telling them something deeply personal.
Plur Hand Signs
You might have heard the term ‘PLUR’ and wondered what it’s all about. It basically stands for Peace, Love, Unity & Respect. It’s often used at raves, festivals, and in the EDM community, where people will trade their ‘Kandi’ (bracelets or necklaces) with each other.
So if someone comes up to you at a festival and holds out the peace sign to you, you might want to mimic what they do. Make a peace sign with your fingers and hold it up against theirs. Next, you’ll do the love sign, then place flat hands together for unity, and lastly thread your fingers through theirs for respect.
You can then exchange your ‘Kandi’ bracelets with one another.
Here’s a lovely video showing you how to use the Plur hand signs:
The Finger & Side Middle Finger
Middle finger emoji
Yes, the middle finger (also knows as ‘the bird’) turned sideways, is equivalent to the traditional finger in the air.
This is an alternative gesture that teenagers sometimes use because it is less obtrusive – essentially, they’re hoping not to be caught flipping someone the bird.
You might have seen and wondered what this ring finger down hand gesture meaning is.
The shocker, also known colloquially as “two in the pink, one in the stink,” is a hand gesture with a sexual connotation.
The ring finger and thumb are curled or bent down while the other fingers are extended. The index and middle fingers are kept together and the back of the hand faces outwards.”Wikipedia
The shocker is an obscene gesture referring to the act of inserting the index and middle fingers into a vagina, and the little finger into the anus, hence the “shock”.
But be aware that this does not have the same meaning everywhere. In Korea, a very similar hand signal (Emeka), but with the fingers apart, means Peace, Love, and Unity.
So check if the fingers are apart or together, to know if it’s an ‘Emeka’ or a ‘Shocker’ hand signal.
The Fig Sign
The fig sign is a mildly obscene hand gesture where you thumb is wedged in between two fingers in a closed fist.
Although there are several different meanings in different countries going back many years, one of the most prevalent meanings is that of a penis penetrating the female genitalia.
It’s also the same hand gesture you make when you pretend to pull the nose off a child, which has no offensive meaning.
V Sign With Tongue
Not quite the same meaning as the peace sign!
This hand gesture gets a little naughty when you bring the tongue into the picture.
As you may have guessed, this one suggests oral sex.
Outward/Backward-facing V Sign
If you turn your palm to face yourself and hold up your two fingers in a V sign, then this is often seen as an insult.
The ‘Two-Finger Salute’ might look like a peace sign, but it’s actually the equivalent of the middle finger in certain countries like the UK, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, India, Pakistan, and New Zealand.
The gesture is often performed by flicking the V up from the wrist or elbow.
The “wanker” hand gesture, is a universally understood symbol, often used to express a derogatory sentiment. The term “wanker” is slang for someone who engages in the act of masturbation. The gesture is made by making a fist and then pumping it up and down, mimicking the action of masturbation.
However, in certain regions, the gesture and its meaning may differ. For instance, in Greece and Portugal, the gesture is made with the palm facing downwards, suggesting a fondness for pleasuring other men instead of oneself.
Tony Blair (ex-British Prime Minister) was caught making this gesture during his youth, causing quite a commotion among the public when the news broke.
The “suck it” hand gesture is when someone straightens their hands and forearms and crosses them in front of their crotch area while saying, “suck it.”
The sign is a symbol of dominance and superiority, conveying triumph or victory over others.
Originally popularized by wrestling groups, its usage has become popular among teens.
Different Country Meanings
Did you know that there are many more hand gestures that have a totally different meaning in different countries?
Read more to ensure that you don’t accidentally insult someone when traveling to their country.
OK sign emoji
Consider the OK sign – the hand signal in which you join your thumb and first finger together to make a circular shape.
We use it to express agreement and compliance in the United States.
However if you use it in Greece, Spain, or Brazil, it means calling someone an a**hole.
And in some Western countries, you can use this sign to signal zero or nothing.
An index finger curved toward your palm is a common “beckoning” gesture. It means “come here.”
However, in the Philippines, these gestures are considered offensive since they are used to call dogs.
If used towards another person, it is equivalent to calling them inferior or animalistic.
Crossing Your Fingers
Crossed fingers emoji
Crossing your fingers in most countries means wishing for luck.
However, in Vietnam, it is considered extremely insulting as it depicts a woman’s genitalia.
It is the hand-sign equivalent of saying the c-word.
Whenever we put our pinky up we’re usually imitating drinking tea, signifying being fancy.
However, in Japan, this same hand signal doesn’t mean ‘fancy’ but ‘women’.
So if someone comes into work far too happy in the morning, you might see someone raising their pinky up, implying that he has a new lady in his life.
Rude Hand Gestures
Here are even more rude hand gestures from around the world that you might not know.
- Papo Furado
- Nose Brush
- High Beams
- ‘V’ On The Nose
- Chin Flick
Watch the video below to see all 20 rude hand gestures:
Street Gang Hand Signs
As I personally do not know enough about street gang hand signs, I don’t feel that I have the authority to post them on my blog.
However, if you’re worried that your teenager might be using these signs, or you want to find out if a sign is a gang sign, then you can look through the Institute Of Police Technology And Management Basic Street Gangs: “Hand Signs” manual.
They include many gang signs from ‘Crips’ to ‘Bloods’, and ‘Vice Lords’ and many more.
Other Types Of Hand Signs
This list covers many mainstream hand signs that you may come across.
There are however several other hand signs that we haven’t covered yet.
American Sign Language
The most well-known is the American Sign Language.
American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages, with grammar that differs from English. ASL is expressed by movements of the hands and face. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing, and is used by many hearing people as well.”nidcd.nih.gov
Anime or Manga Hand Signs
This includes Naruto hand signs, as well as several others like Chidori hand signs and fireball Jutsu hand signs, which are part of anime or manga.
Naruto hand signs are used to perform many ninjutsu, genjutsu, and other secret arts other than taijutsu. They are designed to aid people in properly summoning and molding chakra necessary to perform a technique.”naruto.fandom.com
You can read more about Naruto hand signs and what they mean here.
Solfege Hand Signs
The solfege music system has seven basic syllables: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti.
Solfege hand signs have a simple concept: each tone in the seven-note solfege system is symbolized by a shape a singer makes with their hand while singing.
Hand signs can be produced with only one hand, making them useful for singers who are new to the solfege system.
We hope you’ve found some of these signs and their meanings interesting.
If there are any new hand gestures that your teen uses, that we’ve missed, then please let us know.