People often use body language (kinesics) as a physical, nonverbal form of communication to convey some feeling or intention. Common body language examples include postures, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements, which give away some clues to how you may really feel. Here are some body language meanings which can help you understand what other people are conveying.

Body Language Examples and Their Meaning


Arms crossed in front of the chest

This is one of the body language examples that indicate that one is being defensive. The body language meaning of crossed arms may also show disagreement with opinions and actions of other people with whom you are communicating.


Biting of nails

Nail biting demonstrates nervousness, stress, or insecurity. Many people bite nails without realizing they have the habit.


Hand on cheek

This body language example indicates that one is lost in thought, maybe considering something. When your hand is on your cheek and your brows are furrowed you may be in deep concentration.


Finger tapping or drumming

This action demonstrates that one is growing tired or impatient while waiting.


Touching the nose

Touching or rubbing the nose signifies disbelief, rejection, or lying about something.


Brisk rubbing of the hands

This may show that the hands are cold, which may mean that one is excited about something, or waiting eagerly.


Placing finger tips together

This is called "steepling," or placing fingertips together to demonstrate control or authority. This is one of the body language examples that bosses and other authority figures use to show that they are in control.


Open palms, facing upward

This gesture is a sign of honesty, sincerity, submission, and innocence. This is how some people show submission and respect during church worship.


Head in hands

The body language meaning of this gesture may be that of boredom, being upset, or being ashamed, so one does not want to show their face.


Locking of ankles

Whether you are sitting or standing, when your ankles are locked, you are communicating apprehension or nervousness.


Stroking the chin or beard

This communicates that one is in deep thought. This action is often done unintentionally when one is trying to come up with some decision.


Ear pulling

Pulling an ear lobe can mean one is trying to make a decision, but remains indecisive about something.


Head nodding

This gesture usually signifies agreement or bowing, a submissive gesture that shows one is going along with another person's opinions.


Lint picking

Picking of imaginary lint is another one of the body language examples of displacement gestures, which one uses to show disapproval of the attitudes or opinions of other. This action makes one look away from the other person while doing some irrelevant action.


Catapult posture

This seated version of the “Hands-on-Hip” male posture with the hands behind the head and elbows pointed out is used to intimidate or show a relaxed attitude, thus giving a false sense of security before an ambush is made.


Lowered head

This indicates one is hiding something. When you lower your head while you are being complimented, you may be showing shyness, shame, or timidity. It may also convey that you are keeping distance from another person, showing disbelief, or thinking to yourself.


More body language examples

Here are some more body language examples and their meanings:

  • Standing straight, with shoulders back  – this posture shows that one is feeling confident and it is often accompanied by walking with brisk strides.

  • One-sided head tilt –  tilting the head suggests that one is listening with interest in what others are saying.

  • Overly tilted head – this may be a sign of sympathy, playfulness or flirtation, when accompanied by a smile. However, depending on your eye, brow or mouth gestures, a tilted head may mean that you are confused or maybe challenging someone.

  • Looking down, away from the body – this may indicate guilt or shame. To validate this feeling, revert back to the discussion and see if the body language meaning is the same.

  • Standing, hands on hips – can mean readiness or aggression

  • Shifting of weight or foot movement – suggests that one is impatient, nervous, excited, scared, or even intimidated.

  • Sitting, legs crossed, slight kicking of foot - can mean boredom

  • Sitting, with legs apart – a relaxed posture

  • Walking, hands in pocket, hunched shoulders – can mean dejection

  • Eye rubbing – can mean doubt or disbelief

  • Hands clasped behind back – can mean frustration, anger, or apprehension

  • Pinching the nose bridge, eyes closed – shows negative evaluation

  • Patting or fondling hair – shows insecurity or lack of self-confidence

  • Quick tilting of head – shows interest

  • Prolonged tilting of head – shows boredom


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  • FJan.3 21:09
    If you are not sure what a gesture means ---- ASK the person.
  • Chongo MwangoNov.22 12:05
    very helpfull write up and quiet try Chongo M
  • RandomNov.2 19:09
    I hate when people are convinced that they are true about something, because they "learned it" and this is a perfect example. Matter of altering someones perception.. Although some of it might be true on some occasions - we are not robots.. Yes, we have a natural tendency to coppy other people behaviours.. Media, entertainment and social conditioning works on our subconscious and sadly we are greatly affected, shaped by it, but really - There is no definite way to understand the inner workings of someone simply by their body language.. Think for yourself.. Sink deeper in this subject. Examine yourself. Remember that each individual is different and the way they think and react are different.. As well, it is changeful.. Don't assume that you know what other person is thinking, for most of the time it is an illusion created by your own mind..
  • ChiffgodOct.17 18:31
    Its really helpful and true.
  • Tony JawaharOct.8 07:17
    Very useful information. Thank you.
  • asdfsdOct.2 14:20
    it is very helpful .
  • Omunyokol RobertSep.23 12:30
    I believe the writer is a serious student of languages, all the ideas are true, there is also this body language where if a child is guilty and the mother is asking within the group, who did it? that child will keep on closing the eyes at others so that they may not reveal him or her
  • Jennifer IgweSep.15 11:12
    This is really interesting and true. At least from my own experience.
  • I study body language as part of a psychological project.
  • eltonMay.4 11:16
    Certainly helpful and to a great extent very true.
  • @ : AGREED!
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