What I'm thinking of is usually not performed as a very deep bow as the torso doesn't really move far from the vertical. And when it's done, it's often performed in rapid succession, with kind of a facetious manner. The intended meaning is to pay homage, to say "I am in awe [of what you just did]." Does a specific word describing this motion exist?

  • When you say arms outstretched do you mean out to the side or out in front in a prayer-like formation? Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 3:38

4 Answers 4


What you describe might be a self-conscious or theatrical "salaam", an Islamic salutation properly executed as a low bow while pressing the palm of one's right hand to the forehead.

  • And, IIRC, with the left hand extending forward.
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 2:47

Are you thinking of kowtowing, maybe? Traditionally, that involves kneeling and touching your forehead to the ground, but people sometimes use it more loosely (and facetiously).

  • 2
    It's not so much that it's used more loosely (as in, might be applied to various submissive body posturing). It's just much more likely to be used figuratively. Disregarding the actual meaning, "Blair kowtowed to Bush over Iraq" sounds much more acceptable than "Blair salaamed to Bush..." Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 2:05
  • No, kowtow is a good word, but it isn't what I'm thinking of. I think of someone who is kowtowing as someone clearly demonstrating lower status or supplication, which is not the case for this gesture -- one might do it to an equal, who's done something great to deserve it. The motion I'm thinking of is not so deep as a kowtow or a genuflection.
    – Uticensis
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 2:23

"Worshipping" is the best word I could use to describe it


I believe it's a reference to a 'Hail Mary'... especially if used in a facetious manner. Islam also has a similar movement with a different word.

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