I am writing a copy on an ADHD child's clinical assessment. In one part of the assessment, the clinician pretends not to be able to blow a balloon. Instead of using verbal language to ask what happened, the child gestured with her hands.

Is there a better way to say "gestured with her hands"

  • Can you describe more specifically what the gesture looked like? There might be a standard phrase for it, but it's hard to say without knowing what she was doing. – 1006a Jan 27 at 7:12
  • 'Indicated by signs'? – Kate Bunting Jan 27 at 8:53
  • 5
    What's actually wrong with gestured? You probably don't need "with her hands" or maybe you could use "made manual gestures". But gesture seems exactly the right the word to me: why can't you use it? – Andrew Leach Jan 27 at 10:52
  • Am I right to assume that (formal) sign language - eg BSL - is not involved? – Dan Jan 27 at 20:46

Mime, perhaps - To use gesture and movement, usually without words, in the acting of a play or role; to perform in mime (OED).

"...the child mimed what happened (with her hands)."

The OP asked originally "how to write - hand gestures asking why". In the body of the question the OP also says that "...the child gestured with her hands... to ask what happened". Asking 'Why?' is different to asking 'what happened?'.

The only clear question in the post is at the end "Is there a better way to say "gestured with her hands?" 'Mime' seems like a good fit. Questions can be mimed.

  • It doesn't fit the OP's description: Instead of [...] ask(ing) what happened, the child gestured with her hands. – Mari-Lou A Jan 27 at 13:33
  • Then maybe you should all this in the answer. Because I understood that the child asked "what happened?" = "why?" How would you mime the question "Why [did that man pretend he couldn't blow a balloon]", or "What happened [there]?" Maybe even imitating the doctor, but a question? I was thinking whether rattling the forefinger and thumb, i.e similar to the gun gesture (meaning: Did I see what I thought I saw?) is international. I think Americans might snap their fingers rapidly in front of their eyes to express disbelief or astonishment. – Mari-Lou A Jan 27 at 14:53
  • @Mari-LouA - Thanks, good idea. – Dan Jan 27 at 15:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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