In the sign for "KNIFE" the right index finger starts with the palm
facing backward and moves down and contacts the second knuckle of the left
index finger then makes a small backward slicing movement as it continues its
The above version of "knife" looks a lot like the sign for "CAN'T"
but there are some important differences.
In the sign for "can't" the right hand (if you are right
handed) starts palm down, moves downward
and whacks the tip of the left index finger very quickly.
The left index finger bends as the right index finger past in its downward
Animation: KNIFE (version 1)
In this next version, the knife moves
down, contacts the "carrot" and the slices forward along and off of the
carrot. As if peeling a carrot.
"Cut with a knife"
This sign looks like you are using your right index finger to saw your
left index finger off.
Animation: "Cut with
Here is a version of knife that
uses an "H" handshape on the dominant hand instead of just an index finger.
This sign means "KNIFE" just the same as the other version, but I reckon if
you were talking about different types of knives, you could use the "H"
handshape to show a knife that is larger than a knife done with just the index
Note: The other day a fellow I know criticized this "H"-hand version of the
sign for "knife." He said it wasn't the "right" sign.
Uh huh. Gotcha. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure it is nice to be "right"
all the time.
Moving along, I might suggest that all you eager readers out there try a
little experiment. Go ask your Deaf friends to show you how they would
sign the following sentence:
"Spread butter on a piece of bread with a knife."
Seriously, try it.
Chances are you are going to see the "knife" concept in that sentence
represented with an "H" handshape rather often by your language models. (And
the bread will be represented by a "flat hand.")
My point in sharing several versions of certain signs isn't to claim that
any one sign is "right" but rather to emphasize that signing is
situational and that to be a skilled signer a person needs to know and
recognize variations of signs as well as how and when to use those
You can learn
American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com © Dr. William Vicars