general sign for "excuse" is made by
extending your left hand, palm up. Brush your right bent-hand
fingertips across the left palm starting with the pinky on
your right hand. Bend the large knuckles of the right hand slightly. Keep the
other knuckles straight.
This sign when done with a double movement means things
like "excuse me."
If you roll your eyes and shake your head a bit it can be
used to mean, "Oh that's just an excuse."
If you just use a single movement, it means things like "laid off from work," "released from a church
calling," or "paroled."
EXCUSE: Use a small double movement:
LAID-OFF / RELEASED FROM DUTY / PARDONED:
Use a single, larger movement:
Animation: To be dismissed,
pardoned, or laid off work.
Advanced / Optional Discussion
(Not Required for Class)
Student: What's the difference between "nice/clean" and
Dr. Bill: The sign nice and clean is pretty much the same
except the fingertips of the right hand are brushing across the middle
length of the left hand. The sign for "NICE or CLEAN" uses
"flat hands" and there is more "palm to palm" contact
in NICE/CLEAN than in EXCUSE.
Plus, I bend
"EXCUSE" at the large knuckles. I keep NICE/CLEAN
If that isn't clear, let me know and I can
Student: Left or right?
Dr. Bill: Your right hand moves across left.
Student: I want to know if it is the right hand knuckles that need to be
bent or left?
Dr. Bill: The
large knuckles of the right hand bend. (If you are
right handed) The left hand
stays flat. The tips of the right hand's fingers brush along the palm of the left hand
starting near the butt of the left hand and move to the fingertips of the left hand.
A longer, quick single motion means "to be laid off work" or to be
"pardoned, dismissed, or released."
Note: See: "NICE"
Another student asks: Can you clarify nice/clean vs. excuse?
Dr. Bill: NICE and CLEAN are pretty much the same sign just used in
different contexts. The concept of "CLEANING" uses a double motion. The right
hand in EXCUSE bends at the top knuckles, (the knuckles closest to the wrist), whereas
both handshapes for NICE/CLEAN tend to be flat. Excuse generally moves twice, but if you
sign EXCUSE with a single motion, it tends to mean "to lay someone off a job"
"to pardon with finality" or "to release a person from a church
calling," etc. If you sign "NICE" using a double motion, it means
"CLEAN UP." [In the proper context.] You need more explanation on excuse?
Student: no, I think as I practice it'll come...thanks :-)
In a message dated 1/5/2007 6:12:51 AM Pacific Standard Time, cjzimmer@ writes:
I am having a
hard time either remembering or finding how to sign the word E-X-E-M-P-T The students here that I work with are
seniors in high school and are
getting ready to take mid-term exams, there some who will be able to exempt their exams and we were talking
about that in the club just yesterday and I continually fs the
word... (for not being able to remember the sign) but is
there a sign for E-X-E-M-P-T? or can you use another sign
like the sign for E-X-C-E-P-T. Is this an
acceptable sign to use?
thank you for your help,
C J Zimmerman
Sign Language Interpreter
"Exempt" is one of those concepts that you "spell and/or describe" on first use in a conversation depending on the
understanding level of your conversation partner. After you have established context you can then use a version of
"excuse" to mean "exempt." Do the sign "EXCUSE" using a single movement that extends beyond the fingertips of the
base hand by about 3 or 4 inches. This is the same version of "excuse that you use to mean "pardoned" or "laid off
I personally wouldn't use the sign "except" to mean "exempt" but I wouldn't have a problem with it it someone else
used it. The sign "excuse" is much closer in meaning so that is what I would choose. Context is important. Once you
have clearly established the context and meaning of this sign you can then use the "pardoned/laid-off" sign to convey
the meaning "exempt."