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Signs for Body Parts in American Sign Language

written by: Heather Marie Kosur•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 2/28/2015

Learn some of the ASL vocabulary used by signers for talking about the human body. Included is a link to an accompanying downloadable vocabulary study sheet.

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    The Human Body

    Signers who use American Sign Language as their primary means of communication must learn specific vocabulary to communicate American Sign Language successfully about their bodies. For example, ASL signers must use different signs to talk about different body parts such as fingers, wrists, arms, elbows, and shoulders. The following section provides descriptions of the motions used for some basic signs needed by ASL signers to talk about the human body.

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    ASL Body Parts Vocabulary

    Abdomen, Belly or Stomach – Begin with the fingers of the right hand together. Place the right fingertips on the stomach with the palm facing the body. Poke the stomach twice.

    Ankle – Spell the word A-N-K-L-E with the sign language alphabet.

    Arm – First form the right hand into the letter B of the sign language alphabet. Place the back of the right hand on the left shoulder. Drag the fingertips of the right hand down the left arm to the wrist.

    Armpit – Lift the left arm and hold the left fist in front of the face. Point at the left armpit with the right index finger.

    Artery – Begin with the left hand held in front of the body with the palm facing up. Make a fist with the right hand. Place the right fist on the left wrist. Trace circles up the left arm with the right fist to the middle of the left forearm.

    Back – Reach over the right shoulder and tap the back with the right hand twice.

    Blood – Begin with the left hand in front of the chest with the fingers held open and the palm facing the body. Form the right hand into a fist with the index finger straight. Touch the tip of the nose with the right index finger. Move the right index finger down to in front of the left hand. Then open the fingers of the right hand. Move the open right hand down from the chin to the waist.

    Body – Place the palms of the hands on either side of the chest. Move the hands down the front of the torso to the abdomen.

    Bottom or Butt – Point to the buttocks with the left index finger.

    Breast – Begin with the fingers of the right hand held together. Touch the left breast with the right fingertips. Then touch the right breast with the right fingertips.

    Cheek – Pinch the right check with the right fingers.

    Chest – Begin with the fingers of both hands held together. Tap the fingertips on either side of the upper chest near the armpits with the palms facing out. Then move the hands down and tap the fingertips on either side of the lower chest.

    Chin – Point to the chin with the right index finger.

    Ear – Grab the right earlobe between the right thumb and index finger. Wiggle the ear.

    Elbow – Hold the left arm at a diagonal across the chest. Tap the left elbow with the right index finger.

    Eyes – Point to the right eye and then the left eye with the right index finger.

    Fingers – Hold the hands in front of the body at waist level with the wrists bent and the palms facing toward the body. The thumbs point towards each other. Wiggle the fingers.

    Forehead – First form the letter Q of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Place the right hand on the left side of the forehead with the tips of the thumb and index finger pointing towards the left. Move the right hand across the forehead.

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    Hair – Use the right thumb and index finger to tug at a section of the hair on the right side of the head.

    Hands – First form both hands into the letter B of the sign language alphabet with the palms facing the body. Tap the left wrist with the pinky of the right hand. Then tap the right wrist with the pinky of the left hand.

    Head – Place the right fingertips on the top of the head with the palm facing down. Move the hand down the side of the face to the chin.

    Heel – Begin my holding the left hand in front of the chest with the fingers together and the palm facing down. Form the right hand with the middle, ring, and pinky fingers folded onto the palm and the thumb and index fingers spread to form the letter L. Tap the right thumb onto the bottom of the left wrist twice.

    Hip – Curl the right arm around the right side of the body so that the right palm faces up. Touch the right hip with the right fingertips.

    Knee – First spell the word K-N-E-E with the sign language alphabet. Then point to down towards the knee.

    Leg - First form both hands into the letter B of the sign language alphabet with the palms facing each other and the fingertips pointed towards the ground. Place the right hand in front of the right hip and the left hand in front of the center of the body. Move both hands down the right leg.

    Mouth – Trace a circle around the mouth with the right index finger.

    Neck – First form the right hand with the fingers together and the palm facing down. Tap the right side of the neck with the right fingertips.

    Nose – Tap the nose twice with the right index finger.

    Shoulder – Tap the left shoulder twice with the fingers and palm of the right hand.

    Toes – Hold the hands in front of the body at waist level with the wrists bent and the palms facing toward the body. Tuck the thumbs onto the palms of the hands. Wiggle the fingers.

    Waist – First form the letter Q of the sign language alphabet with both hands. Place the thumbs and index fingers around the bellybutton. Move the hands apart from each other along the waist.

    Wrist – Hold the right fist in front of the face. Pinch the right wrist between the left thumb and index fingers. The other fingers of the left hand should curl loosely onto the left palm.

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    Downloadable Vocabulary Sheet

    The accompanying printable vocabulary sheet of medical terms in American Sign Language is available for download at Body Parts ASL Vocabulary Sheet.

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    Free Online ASL Dictionaries

    For free online ASL dictionaries demonstrating the signs for body parts described above through photographs and videos, please consult: