I have no idea if it is country specific, but in our country if someone doesn't know something he or she would put their lower lip forward.

However, I cannot find a name for this lip gesture. Any help is appreciated.

  • 9
    It apparently is country(region, language, culture)-specific. The pouting gesture does not signify ignorance in Anglophone discourse; that's what the shrug is for. Shrugging is a movement of the shoulders, not the lip, accompanied by raised eyebrows; it signifies ignorance and/or lack of interest. Jun 8, 2014 at 21:32
  • @JohnLawler, while I agree that a pout doesn't indicate ignorance, I disagree with the suggestion that the lip is not involved in a "shrug" expression in Anglophone discourse. My American friends and family often, if not always, accompany the shoulder and eyebrow movement with a particular lip movement -- though not a pout, maybe more of a pursing expression. (There is also a hand movement, palms rotating upward, in the full expression.)
    – LarsH
    Jun 9, 2014 at 2:54
  • 1
    @pingpongi, what country are you thinking of, where this gesture is used?
    – LarsH
    Jun 9, 2014 at 3:03
  • 2
    Does the gesture you're thinking of look the same as a "lip shrug"? See #1 at howtobeisraeli.blogspot.com/2009/12/… (This gesture may not be universal but it is recognizable to us Americans.)
    – LarsH
    Jun 9, 2014 at 3:08
  • 1
    Based on your description, all I can imagine are my various ex-girlfriends pouting. I have words for them, but probably not what you're looking for.
    – asteri
    Jun 9, 2014 at 14:58

4 Answers 4


The Gallic shrug includes both the moue (facial gesture) along with the shoulder shrug

"Raise your shoulders; hold up your hands, palms out; stick out your lower lip; raise your eyebrows;"


  • Ha, interesting! But it's not a "single word" :)
    – Jimi Oke
    Jun 9, 2014 at 2:22
  • But it would definitely be a fun exercise to document the gestures conveying ignorance across various cultures.
    – Jimi Oke
    Jun 9, 2014 at 2:25
  • the single word the OP asked for, just the lip movement, is the "moue" bit...
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 9, 2014 at 12:56
  • The moue alone seems to admit to other nonverbal messages--dislike, disgust, disapproval. Or so I understand.
    – GMB
    Jun 9, 2014 at 14:49
  • 1
    But a moue is essentially a pout, and it also indicates annoyance, not ignorance.
    – Jimi Oke
    Jun 9, 2014 at 14:50

The word for this gesture is pout. In the US and other anglophone nations, pouting usually indicates annoyance or exasperation. So, I wouldn't call this the "I-don't-know" gesture (words like shrug, etc, come to mind for this), but pout is the word you are looking for here.

pout: push one’s lips or one’s bottom lip forward as an expression of petulant annoyance or in order to make oneself look sexually attractive NOAD


to pout: may come close to what you are looking for:

To protrude the lips in an expression of displeasure or sulkiness.

To project or protrude.

  • 3
    I think this is a good answer (a +1 from me anyway) but with a problem, in that pout would imply to many readers such a gesture being used as a sullen or exasperated gesture (I'd expect a shrug to indicate someone didn't know something). But then, that is a matter of the cultural meaning of the gesture, rather than the word being inappropriate for the gesture. I'd suggest the querent accept this answer, but also make it clear how it would be interpretted; "their pout suggested they didn't know" or similar.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 8, 2014 at 21:27
  • 1
    @JonHanna: To me, the cultural meaning of the pouting gesture (sulkiness) is so closely bound into the word 'pout' that if someone needed to communicate a lip movement signifying ignorance, I would feel like 'pout' was the wrong word. Even using it with modification, e.g. "He pouted to show his ignorance," would be very awkward and easily misunderstood.
    – LarsH
    Jun 9, 2014 at 3:00

Protruding lower lip out normally is accompanied with lifting of both eyebrows and symbolises informal and carefree gesture implying "no clue". It is not a polite or respectful gesture.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.