LOVE in sign language

ASL sign for LOVE

ASL signs for LOVE

How do you sign "love", "fall in love", "love at first sight", "KISS-FIST" in American Sign Language?

Meaning: An intense feeling of deep affection.

Pronunciation/articulation: Two-handed "S" hands (handshape), palms in (orientation), in contact with the torso with crossed arms (location), move toward the torso (movement).

Beyond basics

This ASL word (sign) is also known as KISS-FIST in gloss.

Meaning (love it): have a great affection or liking for; "love it"; a favorite.

Unlike the other ASL signword "love" which is used to refer to the emotional affection for another person as in "I love you.", the ASL word "love-it" also known as the gloss KISS-FIST is usually referred to an object, an activity, or a person (as in admiration or favorite). E.g. "I love playing soccer." This sign is sometimes fluid in contexts that it can mean a favorite (which has multiple signwords).

Meaning (fall in love): Become enamored; to be very attracted to someone and begin to love them.

Context example: "He fell in love with her."

Variation: It's a little different usage from the other one. Usage example: "I become enamored with my new hobby the first time I tried it."

Meaning (love at first sight): love at first sight; fall in love at first sight.


Meaning: An one-signed phrase used mostly by native ASL speakers of closeness, which means more like: "you're great!", "I like you", "I care about you", "You're so adorable!", rather than a romantic meaning. Its meaning varies in contexts with various intonations.

This sign with the ILY handshape is used more of a verb (LOVE-YA) rather than signing "I LOVE YOU".

Example: "I had a lot of fun hanging out with you. Love ya!", "You're so hilarious, love ya!"

A subtle difference of movement can convey a different meaning. For example, WAVE-ILY can mean a friendly farewell "hug" with a close friend.

Just a regular "ILY" with a few variations of movement can be expressed as an abbreviation for "I LOVE YOU" during farewell between a child and her/his parent.

Related signs: ILY.



Opposite: HATE.

Baby signing LOVE

Watch how an infant acquires the ASL word LOVE in a timeless time-lapse video of phonological and language development from birth to age 5. <3 <3

Remember that infants (regardless of ASL or English or any other languages regardless of the modalities) begin to acquire a concept of pronouns at about 18 months and understand how to use pronouns at about age 24 months. It's interesting to capture some moments of using pronouns in the language development in the video.

Read more on a post about ILY and love stories in sign language.

Reading and Storytelling

This video shows the mother and her four-year-old bilingual girl reading aloud (and translating) the book, "Mommy, do you love me?" by Jeanne Willis.


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Written ASL

[Note: ASL writing is not an official standard. This sign language writing remains in a state of open space to allow room for experiment, evolution, and improvement.]

ASL writing for LOVE

Written ASL digit for LOVE. The top digit represents the shoulder. The bottom part depicts a handshape 'S'. The cross with two dots is a symbol for the location and movement of the hands (and the crossed arms).

[Contributed by ASLwrite, 2019]

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