When you mildly hit someone else's elbow with your own as a gesture of complicity, what do you call that?

All I've found in dictionaries from my mother tongue to English is jostle, which is way too aggressive, isn't necessarily intentional, and doesn't convey the element of complicity.

Some more information: if you saw a girl or boy you find cute while with a friend, you could make this gesture to tell your friend to look at him or her. You could also do this if you're in class/a conference/a meeting next to someone who is sleeping in order to wake them up.

Here is a photo of what I mean (not a great fit, but it's close enough):

enter image description here


I would call it a nudge. There's a Monty Python skit where one man is asking questions full of innuendo and then says "Nudge, nudge. Wink wink."

Monty Python Candid Photography

When the younger man says "Nudge, nudge." he jostles the older man with his elbow. It's a comedy skit, so it's very exaggerated. In a more normal context, you might say 'I nudged my friend (with my elbow) when the cute girl walked by.'

  • Thanks! So jostle is an appropriate word here? – Yay May 22 '16 at 23:05
  • 2
    @Yay I used jostle because I wanted a different word to explain nudge. I think nudge is more appropriate than jostle. Jostling is less intentional and more like elbowing. It can be kind of rude, like 'the rushing man jostled the people blocking the doorway as he tried to get past them'. – ColleenV May 22 '16 at 23:09
  • 1
    Jostle describes the action but it's not as idiomatic. Jostle can be by accident, nudge is almost always on purpose. – Alan Carmack May 22 '16 at 23:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.