Verbal words aren’t needed to convey body language EMBLEMS

EMBLEMS are understood without verbal words!

EMBLEMS are non-verbal body language hand gestures that are generally understood within a national, regional, gender, or organizational culture (e.g., military gestures or sport related gestures).

For example, in the USA:

ShhhPlacing your index finger vertically to your pressed lips is understood as, “Shhh…be quiet…”

SleepPalms together in a sideways prayer position with head resting on hands and eyes closed means, “Sleep…”

Call Me
Extended thumb and pinky finger spread out next to the mouth and ear gestures, “Call me…(maybe!)”

Up and down head motion means, “YES”
Side-to-side head motion means, “NO”

However, in other cultures such as India or in Southeast Asia, the side-to-side head motion or “Head Wobble” does not mean NO… Instead, the Head Wobble may confuse Americans because it actually may mean:

  • “Yes”
  • “Good”
  • “OK”
  • “I understand”

In sports, players and game officials have their own body language jargon with specific non-verbal hand gestures to indicate intended meanings. These hand signals need to be seen from a distance and are clearly understand by all players and officials within the playing field.

Baseball waving hand motion for, “SAFE!!”

Both left and right arms cross in front and middle of the baseball umpire, and then are raised and fan outward to shoulder level in a sweeping motion parallel to the ground, palms down.


Baseball fans hate seeing this hand and thumb gesture from the umpire meaning their player is:

The “OUT” gesture is a clenched fisted right hand moves toward the umpire’s right eye and ear.

Personal Foul
In American football, this hand and arm gesture means, “PERSONAL FOUL”

HoldingGrasping one arm near the wrist with the other hand
is the NFL Official signal for: “HOLDING” 

Here are more American Football gestures from the officials:

NFL Hand Signals

So, at times, people can get their messages across using hands gestures…without saying a word!

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