"Clasping hands" would fit all the 4 hand gestures but I want to differentiate between the four. I'm especially interested in how to describe the first picture.

The context where I want to use this hand gesture is as follows:

We greeted each other in the Akha manner—clasping each other’s hands and scrunching up our eyes.

(The Akha are an indigenous hill tribe that live in small villages at high altitudes in the mountains of Thailand, Burma, Laos, China, and Yunnan Province in China.)

Greeting 1

Greeting 2

Greeting 3

Greeting 4

  • The last two are handshakes, I think. The second is a common symbol of cooperation, but I can't think what to call it. I've no idea what to call the first.
    – WendiKidd
    Jun 18, 2013 at 16:25
  • I don't think there is a word for the first two. The second two are the same thing, aren't they? I'd call that clasping hands.
    – Daniel
    Jun 18, 2013 at 16:42
  • I don't really recognise the first one, but it looks more like a gesture staged for the cameras than anything else. The second one is more a gesture of solidarity than a "greeting". The third and fourth look like exaggerated double-handed versions of handshakes, typical of contexts where it's either trying to mask a wide "social status" gulf between the participants, or again, something being played out primarily for the cameras. Jun 18, 2013 at 20:57
  • could the first one be called layering of hands? To me, it evokes a team preparing to pump itself up, a symbol of empathy (someone died) or a prayer
    – michael
    Apr 29, 2020 at 11:29
  • the second one could easily be the 1st step in a greeting common in North America (started perhaps by African Americans, but now generally used among friends), which is followed by clasping fingers and then a fist bump (there are variations), sometimes accompanied by a one-armed hug
    – michael
    Apr 29, 2020 at 11:31

2 Answers 2


The first one looks like a team hand stack (warning: black hole ahem, sorry, TV Tropes link). It usually involves more than two people, though. (Perhaps that gets hard to photograph?)

The second is an arm wrestling handshake, since that is the usual position of the hands when arm wrestling.

The third looks like both people are doing a double-hander - see the description a bit past halfway down that page. Alternatively, I've seen this called the glove handshake. This type of handshake is a stereotypical favorite of politicians.

I'm not coming up with a name for the fourth. It looks kind of like a variant of the double-handed handshake (see above), just more sincere. If I had to describe the scene, I'd probably use some variant of "clasp":

She clasped both of his hands between hers and gave him a warm smile.

Edit: Since you asked especially about the first picture...

Like I commented, the first picture does not read "greeting" to me, nor —I dare say— to anyone else in the Western world. Thus, if you wanted to talk about a greeting that involves stacking hands like this, you would have to describe it.

We greeted each other in the Akha manner, clasping all four of our hands in an alternating stack and scrunching up our eyes.


We greeted each other in the Akha manner, piling our hands on top of each others' as if we were starting a team hand stack, and scrunching up our eyes.

Naturally, once you've defined/described the greeting, you could refer to it as an "Akha handshake" in the rest of your narrative.

  • I like 'glove handshake' for the last two. But 'team hand stack' doesn't really fit the first situation where it's two people greeting each other warmly.
    – Soulz
    Jun 19, 2013 at 4:57
  • 1
    @Soulz: Perhaps not, but, I'll admit, that was the first thing I thought of when I saw that picture – I expected to hear a "Let's go!" at any second. If it wasn't for the skin tones and hairiness of the arms, that picture could be four people instead of two.
    – J.R.
    Jun 19, 2013 at 9:15
  • @Soulz, that's just the thing, though: the first picture is not of a greeting at all, warm or otherwise. At least in my lexicon/experience.
    – Martha
    Jun 19, 2013 at 14:42
  • @Martha Thank you for your detailed answer. :) And the links are the icing on the cake. Two thumbs up!
    – Soulz
    Jun 22, 2013 at 8:22

I think the words you used, "clasping each other’s hands" is the perfect choice. It is more expressive than a handshake.

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