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Do we have a specific verb to express the action of the woman in the picture above?

I can list some phrases:

-Hold out your hand to say no

-put up your hand to say no

-put out your hand to say no

-straighten your arm to say no etc

  • That gesture suggests "stop" more than it suggests "no".
    – chepner
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 23:08
  • That gesture also looks more like an attempt to turn something or someone away rather than no.
    – mdewey
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 16:09

5 Answers 5


She is holding up her hand.

We hold out our hand to take someone else's hand or to receive an object.

  • 1
    Hold up your hand to say, Talk to the hand.
    – EllieK
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 13:38
  • But "hold up your hand to say no" does not show up any Google results google.com/…
    – Tom
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 13:46
  • @Tom That's because she's not saying anything. Saying is something you do with your voice.
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 15:23
  • 3
    @Tom Do not count on google for everything. It simply does not work that way.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 17:41

When someone puts up their hand, it suggests that their hand is up in the air like someone who wants to ask or answer a question. I'd suggest

  • She stuck out her hand

Collins: If you stick out part of your body, you extend it away from your body

The same expression could also be used for a hand shake. Perhaps the clearest, and least ambiguous expression is:

  • She gestured stop

Similar to a traffic officer ordering motorists and/or pedestrians to no longer move forward.

It appears that the hand signal is not unequivocal worldwide.

An outstretched arm, palm facing forward, for example, means “stop” in most Western cultures, but in Iraq it’s considered a sign of welcome.

line drawing of a palm facing forward

Nowadays, many will simply accompany the hand gesture with the sarcastic expression

Talk to the hand

Wikipedia: It is usually accompanied by the gesture of extending one arm toward the other person, with the palm of that hand facing the person being insulted, in the manner of the gesture to stop.

  • 1
    You can stick out your hand with the palm face up/or down without that angled wrist.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 21:30
  • A raised hand can mean welcome in western cultures, it just depends on how you do it. If you hold your hand out strongly and leave it there for a second, it does indeed mean halt, but if you lift a hand and let it drop immediately, it's a quick wave of acknowledgement and greeting. Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 22:29

"Put up your hand" is the most common expression when indicating "no" or "stop". "Put out your hand" is also common.

In an Ngram search for "officer put up his hand" vs "officer put out his hand", the two expressions have the same number of hits, but almost all hits for "put up" have our target meaning of "no" or "stop", whereas most of the hits for "put out" have a different meaning.

  • most people will relate "put up (one's) hand" to "when you want to answer a question in class". idioms.thefreedictionary.com/…!
    – Tom
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 4:49
  • @Tom Yes, I'd guess it's more common for "put up one's hand" to mean answer a question or volunteer for something, but you didn't ask about that. In my first draft of this answer I mentioned that meaning, but decided it wasn't relevant to your answer, so I removed it. Did you have a question about that meaning too?
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 9:10
  • @gotibe I think "make a stop gesture" is the best
    – Tom
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 9:47
  • @Tom It's clear, but unnatural. We don't have an expression like "stop gesture", but if you said it, I'd figure out in my head that you mean "put up your hand".
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 18:07

flash your palm at someone

When you flash your palm at someone, you want them to pause or stop. Do this while anyone is speaking and they will almost instantly be quiet. The gesture holds a lot of power so when done willynilly especially during conversations, you might come off as very rude. In the context of interrupting a conversation, it could also mean ‘talk to the hand’ which is a way to dismiss someone mid conversation.

Click on the link to see all the gestures.

lift extended arm with palm facing outwards


  • 5
    Speaking as an American native speaker who's not familiar with ASL (or BSL), I've never heard or read "flash your palm at someone" before now; it certainly doesn't sound normal. Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 22:44

Most of these existing answers at the time of writing tackle the meaning of an outstretched arm/hand rather than directly answering the question 'Is it natural to say "put out your hand to say no"?' In Br-E the direct answer to the question is 'no'. It's not natural, or normal, for anyone to say such a thing. In fact it's normal and natural to say 'raise your hand to say yes', notice the difference though between raising 'your hand' which means above your head Vs 'put out your hand' which seems to suggest holding the hand out forward, The photograph in the question seems strange even as a hand signal to stop as such a gesture would not usually be made with splayed fingers.

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