LOVE in sign language

ASL sign for LOVE

ASL signs for LOVE

How do you sign "love", "fall in love", "love at first sight", "KISS-FIST" in American Sign Language?

Meaning: An intense feeling of deep affection.

Pronunciation/articulation: Two-handed "S" hands (handshape), palms in (orientation), in contact with the torso with crossed arms (location), move toward the torso (movement).

Beyond basics

This ASL word (sign) is also known as KISS-FIST in gloss.

Meaning (love it): have a great affection or liking for; "love it"; a favorite.

Unlike the other ASL signword "love" which is used to refer to the emotional affection for another person as in "I love you.", the ASL word "love-it" also known as the gloss KISS-FIST is usually referred to an object, an activity, or a person (as in admiration or favorite). E.g. "I love playing soccer." This sign is sometimes fluid in contexts that it can mean a favorite (which has multiple signwords).

Meaning (fall in love): Become enamored; to be very attracted to someone and begin to love them.

Context example: "He fell in love with her."

Variation: It's a little different usage from the other one. Usage example: "I become enamored with my new hobby the first time I tried it."

Meaning (love at first sight): love at first sight; fall in love at first sight.


Meaning: An one-signed phrase used mostly by native ASL speakers of closeness, which means more like: "you're great!", "I like you", "I care about you", "You're so adorable!", rather than a romantic meaning. Its meaning varies in contexts with various intonations.

This sign with the ILY handshape is used more of a verb (LOVE-YA) rather than signing "I LOVE YOU".

Example: "I had a lot of fun hanging out with you. Love ya!", "You're so hilarious, love ya!"

A subtle difference of movement can convey a different meaning. For example, WAVE-ILY can mean a friendly farewell "hug" with a close friend.

Just a regular "ILY" with a few variations of movement can be expressed as an abbreviation for "I LOVE YOU" during farewell between a child and her/his parent.

Related signs: ILY.



Opposite: HATE.

Baby signing LOVE

Watch how an infant acquires the ASL word LOVE in a timeless time-lapse video of phonological and language development from birth to age 5. <3 <3

Remember that infants (regardless of ASL or English or any other languages regardless of the modalities) begin to acquire a concept of pronouns at about 18 months and understand how to use pronouns at about age 24 months. It's interesting to capture some moments of using pronouns in the language development in the video.

Read more on a post about ILY and love stories in sign language.

Reading and Storytelling

This video shows the mother and her four-year-old bilingual girl reading aloud (and translating) the book, "Mommy, do you love me?" by Jeanne Willis.

First 100 words.

  1. again
  2. also
  3. ask
  4. bad
  5. boy
  6. but
  7. can
  8. come
  9. deaf
  10. different
  11. drink
  12. drive
  13. eat
  14. email
  15. excuse
  16. family
  17. feel
  18. few
  19. find
  20. fine
  21. fingerspell
  22. finish
  23. food
  24. for
  25. forget
  26. friend
  27. get
  28. girl
  29. give
  30. go
  31. good
  32. have, has, had
  33. he
  34. hearing
  35. hello
  36. help
  37. home
  38. how
  39. Internet
  40. know
  41. later
  42. like (feeling)
  43. little
  44. live
  45. man
  46. many
  47. me
  48. meet
  49. more
  50. my
  51. name
  52. need
  53. new
  54. no
  55. not
  56. now
  57. ok, okay
  58. old
  59. other
  60. please
  61. remember
  62. same
  63. say
  64. school
  65. see
  66. she
  67. should
  68. sign, signed word
  69. slow
  70. some
  71. sorry
  72. store
  73. take
  74. tell
  75. text, sms
  76. thank, thank you
  77. their
  78. they
  79. think
  80. time
  81. tired
  82. try
  83. understand
  84. use
  85. wait
  86. want
  87. what
  88. when
  89. where
  90. which
  91. who
  92. why
  93. will
  94. with
  95. woman
  96. work
  97. write
  98. yes
  99. you
  100. your

As you feel more comfortable with the first few hundreds of ASL signs, progress further with your vocabulary and learn signing more.