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I'm trying to find a short and sweet phrase to describe the following action.

A man is upset. He is demanding for something to be done. He reaches his hand forward, his finger pointing downwards, and he bangs his finger on the table several times, indicating he wants that something now. Or maybe just as an action to reaffirm how serious he is.

Is there a clear way of describing this action?

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    It sounds painful.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 14:57

3 Answers 3

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One word I think you can use is gesticulate:

to move your hands and arms about in order to attract attention or make somebody understand what you are saying

He gesticulated wildly at the clock.

She was shouting and gesticulating from the other side of the road.

So you could say that someone was gesticulating at the floor to indicate his impatience.


Another option is to use stab:

To make a thrusting or poking motion at or into: stabbed the air with his fingers.

So you can say that someone stabbed the desk with his finger, possibly also saying that he is impatiently doing so. If there is no desk, he stabbed downward with his finger.

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  • However, "gesticulate" could just mean wildly waving your arms and hands. Is there a specific phrase to refer to the above action.
    – Thursagen
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 8:29
  • @Thursagen: Updated
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 8:36
  • I agree with "stab". A related (but different) concept is drumming one's fingers; this is a sign of impatience more than anger. Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 13:55
  • I like stab the best. "He stabbed his finger toward the desk."
    – ErikE
    Commented Apr 19, 2012 at 18:03
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If he's doing that on a Bible, you could say Bible-thumping. It's quite a common phrase, so you could expand that to '...he thumps his finger on the table...'

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  • Bible thumper has the wrong connotation
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 9:00
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    I wasn't suggesting using the Bible in the example, was I? I was suggesting a verb to answer OP's question.
    – user12549
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 10:19
  • But you suggested "Bible-thumping". I was explaining that "thumping a Bible" isn't quite the connotation I think you may be looking for.
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 19:28
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    Thank you. I know what Bible thumping means, and I didn't suggest he use it in his sentence. I was explaining why it could be used because it's already used in a well established phrase.
    – user12549
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 23:29
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The most common phrase for this is "banging the table", or "to bang the table".

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    That refers to using your fist, I think
    – user10893
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 8:29
  • That's right. Just as an aside, the person doesn't necessarily need to hit the table with his finger. His finger could just move up and down quickly just above the table.
    – Thursagen
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 8:30
  • It could also happen without a table at all.
    – apaderno
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 8:36

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