How to Say “Dinner” in Sign Language

Learning sign language can open up a whole new world of communication for individuals with hearing impairments and those who interact with them. Whether you’re just starting to learn sign language or are curious about different signs for everyday words and phrases, this guide will provide you with the formal and informal ways of saying “dinner” in sign language. We’ll also include some tips, examples, and regional variations for a comprehensive understanding.

Formal Way to Say “Dinner” in Sign Language

In formal American Sign Language (ASL), the sign for “dinner” involves combining a few different gestures to convey the meaning effectively. Follow these steps to sign “dinner” formally:

  1. Start by extending your non-dominant hand, palm up, in front of your body at approximately waist level. This hand represents a table or surface where you’d typically have your dinner.
  2. With your dominant hand, form an ‘F’ handshape by keeping your index and thumb fingers together and pressing them against your other fingers.
  3. Next, touch the ‘F’ handshape to your non-dominant hand, as if you were placing a plate or a dish on the table.
  4. Make a small circular motion using your ‘F’ handshape on the surface of your non-dominant hand, symbolizing the act of having a meal.
  5. Repeat the circular motion a few times to emphasize the idea of dinner.

Remember to maintain a relaxed and smooth motion while signing “dinner” formally in ASL. Practice this sign in front of a mirror or with a fluent sign language user to ensure accuracy.

Informal Way to Say “Dinner” in Sign Language

Informal sign language varies between different regions and communities, influenced by cultural and regional factors. While it’s important to understand the formal ASL sign, it’s also helpful to recognize some informal variations that may be used in everyday conversations. Here is a common informal way to say “dinner” in sign language:

Begin with a neutral facial expression and sign “food” by bringing an ‘F’ handshape near your mouth twice, as if you were putting small bites of food in your mouth. Then, sign “eat” by bringing an open hand to your mouth multiple times, as if you were conveying the action of eating. Finally, sign “finish” by flicking your dominant hand away from your non-dominant hand, symbolizing the completion of your meal. Combining these signs, you can convey “dinner” in a more informal way.

Remember, these informal signs may vary across different regions and may not represent the sign used universally. If you’re interacting with someone who uses informal variations, it’s always best to adapt and mirror their signs for effective communication.

Usage Tips and Examples

Here are some important usage tips and examples to keep in mind while signing “dinner” in any form of sign language:

  • Context is Key: Like spoken languages, sign languages heavily rely on context. Ensure that the rest of your conversation or the situation makes it clear that you are talking about “dinner.”
  • Facial Expressions: Use appropriate facial expressions to convey the right emotions alongside the sign for “dinner.” A warm smile or a satisfied expression can help enhance communication.
  • Pacing and Clarity: Be mindful of your pacing while signing. Maintain a clear and understandable signing speed, allowing the listener to follow your signs easily.
  • Non-Manual Signals: Pay attention to non-manual signals in sign language, such as head nods, shakes, or tilts, as they often accompany signs to provide additional meaning or clarification.

Now, let’s take a look at a few examples using the signs for “dinner” in different sentences:

Example 1: “What would you like for dinner tonight?”

In this sentence, you can sign “dinner” formally using the ASL sign. Combine it with appropriate facial expressions and a questioning facial expression to convey the meaning effectively.

Example 2: “I’m going out for dinner with friends.”

In this instance, you can use either the formal or the informal sign for “dinner” depending on your preference and the flexibility of the signing community you are a part of.

Example 3: “Dinner was delicious!”

While signing this sentence, combine the sign for “dinner” with a facial expression of satisfaction or happiness to convey your feelings about the meal.


Learning how to say “dinner” in sign language is an essential step towards effective communication with individuals who use sign language. Whether using the formal ASL sign or adapting to informal variations, ensuring clear and contextually appropriate signing is crucial. Remember to be mindful of non-manual signals, facial expressions, and pacing to enhance your communication skills in sign language. Additionally, don’t hesitate to consult with fluent sign language users or attend sign language classes to further refine your signing abilities. So go ahead and enjoy your signed conversations over dinner with friends and family!

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