What do you call the act of greeting someone with a series of hand gestures? This is something you would see, e.g., between gang members.

For example, when two people meet, they give a "high-five" to each other, and then gently push their knuckles against each other, and then touching their elbow against each other.

In an example sentence, I would love to say:

I have just seen those two _________ing.

The expression ``victory dance'' comes to my mind, as describing a specific series of body movements, but that is obviously used for something else. I am sort of looking for an analogous expression.

Related: Is there a term that means doing "funny hand gestures”?

  • Do you mean making hand contact or do you mean signals without contact ? Depending about what you have in mind, I would consider synonyms to gesticulate thesaurus.com/browse/gesticulate Depending on what you consider a greeting, a salute it sort of hand motion acknowledging someone's presence, not always used in it's strict military sense. I'm not suggesting "salute" but something like a "salute" or a "wave" (waves are certainly hand-gestures for greetings?) fits a narrower definition like 'handshake'.. but of course, you might mean something that fits handshake.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


I believe the term you're looking for is secret handshake.

Definition from Wikipedia:

A secret handshake is a distinct form of handshake or greeting which conveys membership in or loyalty to a club, clique or subculture. The typical secret handshake involves placing one's fingers or thumbs in a particular position, one that will be recognized by fellow members while seeming to be a normal handshake to non-members.

I believe there are two types - the type used by gang members/people who actually want to be incognito vs the "geeky" type that you often see on TV shows and movies (the example that comes to mind is the one between Peter Parker and his friend in the recent Spider-Man).

  • Thank you for your answer. I was hoping to find an expression something like this. Let's wait a few days before accepting this as an answer.
    – Matsmath
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 12:55
  • I'm not sure that touching elbows can be called a 'secret handshake'. I won't link, but Masonic handshakes are classed separately from other signs. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 13:05
  • @EdwinAshworth OP didn't say just touching elbows; they said specifically said it was part of a series of gestures, which the term 'secret handshake' is perfectly applicable to. A "masonic handshake" seems to be a particular type of secret handshake, judging from a quick google search. There is not a whole lot of information on it either, so providing a link would be useful.
    – mike
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 13:21
  • I'm not sure I'd accept the touching of elbows as being generally recognised as a possible component of a secret handshake, where a reasonably intersective meaning (a handshake that has a secret aspect) might be expected. There seems to be a lack of coverage of the string 'secret handshake' in the major free online dictionaries. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 13:35
  • 1
    No; idioms, for instance, are extragrammatical, use words with senses that aren't usually found, or both. But they're widely used and accepted, and found in dictionaries of idioms. ELU is about normal rather than marginal English usage. Of course there is a place for experimenting with language, for bending the rules, for allowing creativity to outrank strict adherence to standard practice. But there are also places where the reverse is true. And ELU is about normal rather than marginal English usage. Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 20:03

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