Signs for DRINK

It's one of the easiest words in the ASL dictionary. Without even looking, you can just make a guess. But, there are some signed synonyms to learn more in American Sign Language.

Definition: To take (a liquid) into the mouth and swallow.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant C-shaped hand with the thumb in contact or near the mouth twists at the wrist toward the mouth.

Verb form usually with one movement. E.g. "I'm thirsty. I need something to drink." However, this verb may be plural with more than one movement.

Plural verb for DRINK. Longer repeated movement than the noun.

A liquid that can be swallowed as refreshment or nourishment. E.g. "Do you want a drink?" Repeated, short movement (noun).

Baby signing DRINK

As early as gestural pointing emerged at about 6-9 months, baby can use gestural pointing to ask for a drink before they can use a proto-word 'drink' whether in signed or spoken language. Note that "baby sign language" is a cultural appropriation. No such as 'baby signs' other than they are just early forms of words, just like spoken words.

In a case study of baby Juli, the ASL word "drink" began to emerge during the one-word stage of language development as illustrated at age 1;2 in the video.

In the beginning, the location is the back of the hand while the hand formed "flat O". Then later, her handshape began to form "20" (or also known as "baby O"). To form the correct "C" handshape takes some time, which can emerge at about 20 months or later.

During the first few years, the child uses either left or right hand, not forming a dominant hand yet until later.


There are several signs for 'drink'.

A different handshape (classifier) for drinking some alcoholic fluid (cocktail, for example).

Related signs: BOOZE, SHOT, DRINK UP, QUAFF.

To drink typically with a British tea cup.

Related signs: SIP.

To drink typically with a mug.

Related terms

At a hearty Thanksgiving table with all kinds of BEVERAGES from juice to liquor and, of course, food. Great Granny SIPPED her cup of brewed tea. Her great nieces took a mouthful of pop soda, noisily gurgled and GULPED. Granny whispered, "Drink properly, kids." Somewhere over by the kitchen sink, Great Grandpa shakily held a pill, popped into his mouth, and SWALLOWED hard. But, the pill still hovered somewhere stuck in his esophagus and he coughed. Daughter rushed to hand him a glass of water. He GUZZLED it. The drunken great uncle over by the fireplace croaked, "But why do we have to wait til 5 to QUAFF our favorite BOOZE? It's time for a CHUG. Who's going to stop me? You? My obligations? A court order?" As the old saying goes, "It's 5 O'clock somewhere." His timid chap nodded, listening. The host interrupted by clicking with a spoon on her glass, "Let's all TOAST now. [blah...]" The great uncle murmured into the poor chap's ear, "So DRINK UP, my friend. There are many to be drained before tonight's NIGHTCAP, for tomorrow, is rehab." Adorably, over there in the corner, the whole family's newest family member -- a peacefully sleeping baby SUCKLES the mother's milk.

A few more: SLURP.

Kinds of drinks

What would you like to drink? Just a glass of WATER is fine; JUICE, TEA with lemon slice and honey; COFFEE, POP, MILK, MILKSHAKE, FIZZY WATER...

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