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What's the name of this kind of act? It is commonly seen between friends. (I mean the act between two people, not necessarily 4 people like this one.)

Or can you describe it with a few words?

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2  
If they start doing dance steps, you could call it "a chorus line." –  Robusto Mar 9 '11 at 10:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is normally described rather literally as "putting an arm around someone's shoulder".

For example: Mike put his arm around Tracey's shoulder while they were watching the football game.

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It would not be an "act". "Act" implies a performance of some kind, like in front of an audience. "Action" would be all right. "Gesture" would be a good choice. Though it generally implies movements during speech, it can also simply mean "posture" but carries a social connotation, too. A person can have a particular posture while alone, but a gesture would require at least one other person to observe it or to be the recipient of it for it to have meaning.

Example: He put his arm around my shoulder as a reassuring gesture.

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A more succinct phrase would be shoulder embrace.

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