BIRTHDAY in sign language

Two variations are common, depending on the regions and/or generations. Further variations may be also used, but these two are more well-known signs.

Definition: The anniversary of the day on which a person was born.

There may be regional/generational variations for BIRTHDAY.

Compound sign: BIRTH+DAY (older generational variation as well as found in some regions).


The old sign "birthday" as shown in the 1913 video in the U.S. has been still used in many regions (e.g. especially the Canadian Deaf elders).

Video clip source: "The Preservation of Sign Language" (1913) video by George W. Veditz (1861-1937), then-President of the NAD (National Association of the Deaf). Gallaudet Archive and Library of Congress.

A difference between the old version and the modern version is that Veditz in the video signed with both arms while the signers use the modern version with the hands only. This is one of some examples of how signs became "smaller" than in the old days.

Fun Birthday Conversations ASL

The little girl (age 4;3) made a little birthday party for her mother. All conversations took in American Sign Language (ASL). English subtitles will be provided at some time in the near future.

"I love when the girl signs one-handed because she has a fork in her hand." -- David Brooks, 2020.


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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

ASL written digit for HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

ASL writing

Both written ASL images contributed by Adrean.

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