A Basic Dictionary of ASL Terms

Here are a few American Sign Language terms to help those of you who are trying to communicate with a person who signs, but does not hear. New word definitions are being added, and this will soon bring the total number of ASL terms to more than 1270!   Also included is the basic alphabet and numbers 1-10.

This dictionary has both animated and text definitions. The text definitions also have letter or number sign images to aid in visualizing the sign. This will allow you to quickly locate a word, read how to sign the word, and choose to view the animated sign if you wish.

The sign images are displayed from the perspective of the viewer, not the signer. It is easy to remember this if you imagine that someone is signing to you while you are viewing the word definitions.

In Sign Language, facial expression including the raising or lowering of the eyebrows while signing, and body language are integral parts of communicating. These actions help give meaning to what is being signed, much like vocal tones and inflections give meaning to spoken words.

To date, this dictionary has been consulted 15382360 times.

Our goal in making this resource available is to help those who desire to learn ASL, and enable them to communicate more easily with others. You can help if you

Notes to enhance usage:
  1. Please note that these dictionary pages are best viewed with a full screen window.
  2. Please wait for the pages to fully load before using the word selector. Reload the page if the links do not work properly.
  3. We have added an option which allows you to choose the background color for the dictionary pages. Your browser must be JavaScript enabled to use this feature.
  4. The layout of the pages may not appear correctly with all web browsers.
  5. My Wife and I have spent many hours putting together this Basic Guide to ASL. Our desire is to provide you with a tool which will enable you to communicate more easily with people who cannot hear. If you would like to learn more than what is provided here, I suggest that you purchase the ASL Concise Dictionary (mentioned in the credits below). The author and publishers also spent much time making it available to the general public, and since I owe them credit for many of the definitions found in this basic guide, I can highly recommend it.
  6. Another good resource is the Michigan State University ASL Browser Web Site. The animated sign definitions seen in this dictionary were made possible by its creators.
  7. In order to make this Basic Guide to ASL available to more people, we have chosen to use a professional hosting service.
  8. If you would like to sponsor this ASL Dictionary, or if you can make a donation, please do what you can to help keep this resource available.

Dictionary pages for words beginning with...

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
| N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Or if you prefer...

ASL numbers 1-10! | ASL Alphabet!

Search The American Sign Language Dictionary

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The search terms you input do not have to be complete words. For example, "free," will match occurrences of free, freedom, freeforall, etc.
Do not include asterisks or other non-alphanumeric characters in your search terms unless you actually want them included (as with "C++") as part of your search.

Find American Sign Language books
and learning aids at Amazon.com.

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After you learn the ASL alphabet, come back and read this message that we have put here for you.

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A virtual world of information...Here is a list of web pages that link to this ASL Dictionary. Most of the pages are informational sites that have reference links which are invaluable.

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Many of these definitions are from the "American Sign Language Concise Dictionary" Copyright © 1994 by Martin L.A. Sternberg
Hand signs from the ASL Fingerspell (amslan) font.
Thanks to Christopher Hunt (spirit@internorth.com) for his "Hands" background.
Special thanks to the creators of the Michigan State University ASL Browser Web Site for providing the animated signs.

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A Basic Guide to ASL was redefined on Wednesday, Feb. 07, 2024