Deaf People Reveal Things People Accidentally Sign

American Sign Language is a complete, complex language that employs signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and posture. It is the primary language of many deaf North Americans. But moving your hands while talking is something a lot of people do naturally.

So Reddit user Thatdamnalex asked "Deaf people of Reddit, what are some common things people unknowingly sign when they gesture with their hands while talking?"

Here are their answers.

Design Disaster

The royal college of nursing's logo in the U.K. is very similar to the sign for the "F" word.

Horses of Hell

I grew up in a very religious, home schooled community. And once a rather charasmatic church with a large number of deaf members decided to host a week long ASL camp. I went and on the first day, we had an ice breaker game where we would all sign something about ourselves. At the time, I worked with and owned a horse. So I fingerspelled my name then signed that I loved horses. Suddenly, there's a quiet gasp and my deaf teacher freaks the f--- out and someone hearing asked me what I meant to say because apparently I confused the sign for "horse" with the sign for "devil".


You know that meme going around with people doing the "OK" hand shape? Yeah, that means "asshole" in ASL.

To clarify, I'm talking about this meme.

That Could be a Problem

The sign for "divorce" and "defecate everywhere" are fairly similar. In an ASL, we were signing things about our families. I meant to sign "my parents are divorced." What I signed was "my parents defecate everywhere."

My (Deaf) teacher laughed her ass off.


I had a nervous tic when I was younger where I'd bounce my middle fingers back and forth on the opposite palms when I was talking.

Yeah, I found out I was just signing "Jesus" over and over.


My girlfriend works in Special Education and knows sign language. She just started working at a new school, and was a little rusty with her signs. She was assigned a kid who was deaf. Her entire first few days she was working with him he would refuse to get in line. Turns out the sign for pasta and line are very similar. She was unknowingly telling the kid to "Get in the pasta".

Struck Dumb

People putting a "2" on their forehead.

It means stupid.

The "L" Word

People putting 'L' or the index and thumb under their chin for pictures. It means lesbian.

Doubling Up

People's usual gesture for "3" actually means "6" in ASL.

Get an Exorcist

I am deaf. A fair amount of pastors loosely sign "Satan" early on around prayer and before their sermon. It's actually very strange because while it is something someone could accidentally sign when addressing a large crowd like a church, it happens quite often.

Rock On

I am not deaf but my parents are and I know ASL fluently. The "rock" symbol facing yourself ????is a short-hand (pun intended) version of BS. I fronted a metal band in my 20's and my parents would come and watch the shows to support even though they couldn't hear me. They thought everyone in the crowd thought we were BS.

Placement is Everything

The thank you and "F" you sign are very similar. Every time I teach someone how to say thank you and you're welcome, they almost always put their hand under their chin instead putting their hand on their chin can make a big difference in meaning.


I'm Deaf. People who do the 'duh' hand gesture like curved hand against side of head.... It's the same word for garbage can!


I do the hand gestures that surfers do a lot as a wave, otherwise known as a shaka. Turns out I'm just saying yellow.

Working Hard

I took 3 years of American Sign Language in college. When I was in my first semester, our assignment was to go to the front of the class and sign what we did over the weekend. explained that on Saturday "I worked all day." My professor pulled me aside after class and told me I actually signed "I pleased myself all day." Thankfully at that point, nobody caught on except for her, but she did laugh her ass off. Those signs are strangely close together.

Close Enough

Vagina (versus) triangle is a common one. I'm taking jiu jitsu, and my instructor tried to sign a triangle for the triangle choke. My deaf friend and I looked at each other and cracked up. We now sign the triangle choke as vagina choke.

Gary Pratt/Flickr

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