This visual quick how-to guide shows you how to search a word, for example "handspeak".
Search/Filter: Enter a keyword in the filter/search box to see a list of available words with the "All" selection. Click on the page number if needed. Click on the blue link to look up the word. For best result, enter a partial word to see variations of the word.
Alphabetical letters: It's useful for 1) a single-letter word (such as A, B, etc.) and 2) very short words (e.g. "to", "he", etc.) to narrow down the words and pages in the list.
For best result, enter a short word in the search box, then select the alphetical letter (and page number if needed), and click on the blue link.
Don't forget to click "All" back when you search another word with a different initial letter.
If you cannot find (perhaps overlook) a word but you can still see a list of links, then keep looking until the links disappear! Sharpening your eye or maybe refine your alphabetical index skill. :)
Add a Word: This dictionary is not exhaustive; ASL signs are constantly added to the dictionary. If you don't find a word/sign, you can send your request (only if a single link doesn't show in the result).
Videos: The first video may be NOT the answer you're looking for. There are several signs for different meanings, contexts, and/or variations. Browsing all the way down to the next search box is highly recommended.
Video speed: Signing too fast in the videos? See HELP in the footer.
ASL has its own grammar and structure in sentences that works differently from English. For plurals, verb inflections, word order, etc., learn grammar in the "ASL Learn" section. For search in the dictionary, use the present-time verbs and base words. If you look for "said", look up the word "say". Likewise, if you look for an adjective word, try the noun or vice versa. E.g. The ASL signs for French and France are the same. If you look for a plural word, use a singular word.
Some of the word entries in the ASL dictionary feature Deaf stories or anecdotes, arts, photographs, quotes, etc. to educate and to inspire, and to be preserved in Deaf/ASL history, and to expose and recognize Deaf works, talents, experiences, joys and pains, and successes.
If you're a Deaf artist, book author, or creative and would like your work to be considered for a possible mention on this website/webapp, introduce yourself and your works. Are you a Deaf mother/father, traveler, politician, teacher, etc. etc. and have an inspirational story, anecdote, or bragging rights to share -- tiny or big doesn't matter, you're welcome to email it. Codas are also welcome.
Hearing ASL student, who might have stories or anecdotes, also are welcome to share.
Don't know what a sign mean? Search ASL to English reverse dictionary to find what an ASL sign means.
To start with the First 100 ASL signs for beginners, and continue with the Second 100 ASL signs, and further with the Third 100 ASL signs.
Learning ASL words does not equate with learning the language. Learn the language beyond sign language words.
Contextual meaning: Some ASL signs in the dictionary may not mean the same in different contexts and/or ASL sentences. A meaning of a word or phrase can change in sentences and contexts. You will see some examples in video sentences.
Grammar: Many ASL words, especially verbs, in the dictionary are a "base"; be aware that many of them can be grammatically inflected within ASL sentences. Some entries have sentence examples.
Sign production (pronunciation): A change or modification of one of the parameters of the sign, such as handshape, movement, palm orientation, location, and non-manual signals (e.g. facial expressions) can change a meaning or a subtle variety of meaning. Or mispronunciation.
Variation: Some ASL signs have regional (and generational) variations across North America. Some common variations are included as much as possible, but for specifically local variations, interact with your local community to learn their local variations.
Fingerspelling: When there is no word in one language, borrowing is a loanword from another language. In sign language, manual alphabet is used to represent a word of the spoken/written language.
American Sign Language (ASL) is very much alive and indefinitely constructable as any spoken language. The best way to use ASL right is to immerse in daily language interactions and conversations with Ameslan/Deaf people (or ASLians).
Browse phrases and sentences to learn sign language, specifically vocabulary, grammar, and how its sentence structure works.
According to the archives online, did you know that this dictionary is the oldest sign language dictonary online since 1997 (DWW which was renamed to Handspeak in 2000)?
This dictionary is not exhaustive; the ASL signs are constantly added to the dictionary. If you don't find the word/sign, you can send your request via email. Browse the alphabetical letters or search a signed word above.
Regional variation: there may be regional variations of some ASL words across the regions of North America.
Inflection: most ASL words in the dictionary are a "base", but many of them are grammatically inflectable within ASL sentences.
Contextual meaning: These ASL signs in the dictionary may not mean the same in different contexts and/or ASL sentences. You will see some examples in video sentences.
ASL is very much alive and indefinitely constructable as any spoken language. The best way to use ASL right is to immerse in daily interaction with Deaf Ameslan people (ASLers).