Signs for ALPHABET

This 'alphabet' word entry in the ASL dictionary shows you 1) how to sign the English word "alphabet" in ASL, 2) how to fingerspell the alphabet down below with a few resource links, 3) how a child develops the handshapes for the ABCs.

ASL signs for 'alphabet'

How do you sign "alphabet" and "alphabetical" in ASL (American Sign Language)?

Meaning: A set of letters or other characters with which one or more languages are written especially if arranged in a customary order; ABC's.


Definition: arranged in the order of the letters of the alphabet; from A to Z.

Related signs in the ASL dictionary: LANGUAGE, LETTER, FINGERSPELL.

Sign language alphabets

Just as sign languages are not universal, manual alphabets around the world are not the same. As signed languages are independent from spoken languages from grammar to structure, the manual alphabets are used to fingerspell people’s names , brand names, and other spoken/written words of spoken languages that don't have signed words in signed languages.

Open the ASL alphabet chart to learn how to fingerspell the American manual alphabet used by Deaf people in North America or the BSL alphabet chart to practice the British manual alphabet which is used by Deaf signers in the U.K. (British Sign Language), Australia (Australian Sign Language a.k.a. Auslan), and New Zealand (New Zealand Sign Language.

This fingerspelling interactive activity allows you practice your receptive skill in ASL fingerspelling by watching the videos and entering your answers.

Toddler fingerspelling ABCs

By age 3.5 to 4 or so, ASL-speaking children may able to not only fingerspell the ABCs, but also be able to form the manual letters correctly.

In the video, this bilingual ASL-speaking kid fingerspells from A to Z during her natural language development.

Tips for hearing learners, don't sign "and" between Y and Z -- one of some examples of "hearing culture".

Also, don't sign (pronounce) Z the opposite way. Move it in the same way you write Z, from the left to the right side from a signer's perspective.

And, a big emphasis here. Don't bounce your hand when fingerspelling letter by letter.

Anecdote: A to Z fingerspelling contest

In my teen years in a swim club, my hearing teammates, who regularly communicated with me via fingerspelling mostly, were fast enough, but unsurprisingly slow at reading fingerspelling.

At swim meets long between races, swimmates often keep themselves entertained to pass the time. There were times when they would boast to their hearing mates by demonstrating how fast they could fingerspell from A to Z, until the first time they saw how zoom I fingerspelled. Their eyes were blown away. :D

Then they competed against one another who could fingerspell A to Z the fastest without missing a letter. They got in trouble when they challenged me. Naturally, I always made sure I beat them all the times, especially with a high of fingerspelling reading skill that I could watch how far they went and I made sure I kept a letter or so ahead of them. Or, I could catch them if they missed any alphabetical letter. On the other hand, they couldn't catch any missing letter if needed. :D And, I used what I call it, "cursive fingerspelling".

Feeling lucky? Random word

Basic word starters: hello / learn / ASL / sign language / alphabet / love / I love you / please / thank you / welcome...

Search Tips and Pointers

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.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

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.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

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.