ASL sign for BOY

In this word entry, learn how to sign "boy" in ASL (vocabulary), see how an ASL-speaking child acquires the signed word (phonological development), and how the sign "boy" formed (etymology).

ASL sign for BOY

How do you say 'boy' in American Sign Language?

Definition: A male child or young man.

The origin of this onomatopoeic sign came from a grasp of the brim of the cap in the old days.

Pronunciation/articulation: Fingertips of dominant "flat O" handshape (palm orientation facing the left side if right-handed) taps with thumb twice in front of the forehead.

Origin/etymology: "A sign borrowed from French sign language which originated in olden days, when boys wore 'caps' as part of their standard school uniforms." -- Lyn J. Wiley via email, May 2015.

Opposite: GIRL.

Related signs: MAN, CHILD, KID

Baby signing 'boy'

Watch the time-lapse video how the bilingual ASL-speaking kid of Deaf parents acquires the ASL sign BOY in early language development from baby to preschool age.

The "O" handshape is one of few unmarked handshapes in 50+ handshape prime chart in ASL. Because the handshape is unmarked thus natural, it's possible for the child to form the handshape without handshape error. An ASL-speaking baby may use the unmarked handshape "20" in their phonological process before forming the correct handshape. Each child develops at different pace.

In the video at 1:3, notice that the baby self-corrects the location of the ASL sign. At age 1;7, it looks like she's checking out a boy, asking mom (translated from ASL as) "Who is this boy over there?" Ha, kidding.

Note that "baby sign language" is harmful cultural appropriation. There are no such "baby signs" as much as you don't call English "baby English" nor "baby speech". Parentese, older known as motherese is commonly used in both spoken language and signed language throughout the world. Baby sign language is one of some manifestations of oppression of our Deaf people and our signed languages. Deaf children have been forbidden from signing their very own natural (signed) languages during the critical development of language in name of speech.

BOY signed by a four-year-old.

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.