"Good" in sign language

Printable ASL for GOOD

Goodies in this entry: ASL signs with tips, how kids sign 'good', related words, cross-cultural anecdote, comparative and superlative (better and best).

ASL sign for "good"

How do you sign "good" in American Sign Language?

Meaning: To be desired or approved of; very satisfactory, enjoyable, pleasant, or interesting.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant flat hand (handshape), palm in (orientation), fingers in contact with the chin (location), move forward away from the chin (movement).

Learner tip: Don't confuse this similar signword with "THANK". The homophones GOOD and THANK look similar, but with subtle nuances, they are different. For beginners, practice contexts and language skills.

Possible usage examples with "good" in ASL are, for example, "good experience", "good job", "a good movie", "a good time", "good time", and such common expressions. And, greetings include "good morning" and "good night".

Variation: The same sign as GOOD, but the motion of the dominant hand from the area of lips or chin to the non-dominant palm is also a variation.

When to use this GOOD with the non-dominant base? It may have its history and etymology and the ASL language evolved over years. Culturally speaking, ... honestly, we barely use this.

If a Deaf signer uses it, it could be found in some possible situations such as 1) occasional use (as in "I think it's a good idea"), 2) emphasis ("Well, it's indeed a good idea! But, .. ") or sarcasm ("Oh yeah, it's a good idea.") with certain intonation and facial expression. Yet, they can be done without the non-dominant base, though.

Kids signing GOOD

The ASL sign "good" is not as hard to "pronounce" or produce as the other ASL words in the early language acquisition for ASL-speaking children and codas.

Please note that "baby sign language" is harmful cultural appropriation. There is no such as "baby sign language" nor "baby signs", just as much as "baby speech language" isn't conventionally used.

The video below is a time lapse of the bilingual ASL-speaking toddler Juli signing 'good' from baby to preschool age in a natural language development from birth.

The toddler in this video signs "good" with much informal register (e.g. loose location). Even she can produce the sign with the correct location but she doesn't produce it in formal citation. Informal register in conversational ASL is pretty much a norm in everyday life.

At age 3;7 in the video, Juli uttered in ASL (translated as), "That's a good idea" when her mother made a suggestion. At age 2;7, observe her facial expression in the form of intonation when she signed "It's really good" or "It's good". She tried to convince her mother to buy the chococlate ball. :D

Related signs


Opposite: BAD, NO GOOD.

How to sign comparative BETTER and superlative BEST.

Phrases of 'good': GOOD ENOUGH, GOOD RIDDANCE.

Cross-cultural anecdote: a nice hat!

January 2008: A feisty, American young Deaf man, who worked as a ASL language instructor for a year in Tokyo, Japan, told me an incident in Japan where I stayed there for a few months. Here is his funny story in January 2008.

good gesture
"F-GOOD" gesture

One day, he saw a short Japanese elderly woman who wore a fine, beautiful cartwheel or floppy hat. He genuinely wanted to compliment her, so he warmly approached her and gestured -- pointed to her hat and gestured F-GOOD (see the image above). The frail elder at first looked confused. Again, he pointed to her hat and gestured GOOD with the "F" handshape! The lady looked aghast and rushed away. The American guy stood there, scratching his head. To that day, he still didn't figure it out, why? But, I burst out laughing with tears.

I explained to him that this F-handshape gesture is apparently associated with money in Japan and I could imagine how the old lady interpreted the guy's approach and gesture, "Wow, look how expensive this hat must be". This traditionally conservative old lady must be feeling intimidated by the high-spirited young American man talking about money pointing to the hat. Hearing this explanation, the American guy suddenly looked illuminated. He then sincerely felt so bad, so bad for her (and for himself).


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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 written for GOOD

ASL written for "THANK-YOU" by Todd Hicks, 2017.

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