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12 Hand Signals Teens Make & What They Mean

hand signal
Jeanne Sager Photography

Remember during President Barack Obama's inauguration when his daughters Sasha and Malia Obama hammed it up as the elder girl took shots of their goofy faces and hand signals with her cell phone. That's probably when the nation first realized the first daughters officially entered a stage that confuses parents everywhere. Just what are tweens and teens trying to SAY with those hand signals on Facebook and Instagram anyway? 

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Should parents be worried or are all these crazy hand gestures just innocent teen-aged fun? Maybe a little bit a both? CafeMom asked a flesh-and-blood teenager to help us decode the popular hand signals that crop up among teens and most often on social media, and while some of her answers may sound like common sense, some of the others are pretty shocking.

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Just wait for the not-so-innocent peace sign, and find out why the heck no one is supposed to look when kids touch the tip of their thumb to the tips of their other four fingers!

Of course, every parent will be relieved to know 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!

Jeanne Sager

1Peace Sign

Some things really never change. The same peace sign the hippies used at Woodstock is popular with kids today.


Jeanne Sager

2Two-Finger Salute

It looks like a peace sign, but notice you see the back of the fingers, not the front? That's rumored to be the equivalent of the middle finger in Britain.

Then again, for some kids, it's just a peace sign ... so don't jump to conclusions.

Jeanne Sager

3V Sign

Sooo not a peace sign! The innocent two fingers get naughty when you bring the tongue into play. If you hadn't already guessed, this one is suggestive of oral sex.

Jeanne Sager


Looks like a heart, doesn't it? That's because it is. This generally means "I love you."


Jeanne Sager


This is a silly game teenagers play. The goal is not to look at it. If you do, you're bound to get suckerpunched. Want it to go away? You have to try to stick your index finger in the hole ... without looking.

Jeanne Sager

6Hook 'Em Horns

It's not demonic; it's just a sign of having a good time. You'll tend to see this one at concerts.

Jeanne Sager

7Middle Finger

Yes, the middle finger turned sideways means the same exact thing as the traditional finger in the air. Sometimes teens do this because it's less obtrusive -- essentially they're hoping not to get caught flipping someone the bird.


Jeanne Sager


You probably know this one already. But just in case you don't, the "L" is for loser!

Jeanne Sager

9You Ate It

When some burps or farts, some teens put their hand to their forehead like this. The last person to do so is the person who "ate" the aforementioned flatulence.

Jeanne Sager

10I Love You

Taken from American Sign Language, this simply means "I love you."


Jeanne Sager

11Peace ... Sideways

It's sideways, but it means the same thing as the traditional peace sign.

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