Master the Sign for Afraid in Sign Language | Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to express your fear or apprehension using sign language, but didn’t know how? Fear not, because today we are diving into the world of ASL to bring you a step-by-step guide on how to sign “afraid” in sign language. Whether you are a beginner or have some experience with sign language, this guide will provide you with the necessary tools and knowledge to confidently communicate your feelings of fear. So, let’s get started on this exciting journey of learning and discovering the power of signing “afraid” in American Sign Language(ASL).

Afraid in Sign Language

Understanding the Sign

To convey the sign for “Afraid,” start with your hands by your sides, with the dominant hand around chest level and the non-dominant hand around stomach level. Bring your hands inward, in front of your body, palms facing inward, and fingers spread in an open five-hand formation. As you do this, imagine the feeling of fear creeping in, causing your hands to move closer together. The hand movement should reflect the intensity of the emotion.

To fully express the sign, incorporate facial expressions that match the hand signs. Raise your eyebrows, creating a look of worry or concern. Keep your eyes wide open, conveying a sense of alertness or anticipation. Perhaps slightly part your lips as if you are about to gasp or let out a small cry. These facial cues will enhance the message and help convey the depth of the emotion being expressed.

It’s worth noting that this same sign is used in Baby Sign Language (and ASL) for various emotions related to fear, such as “scared,” “scary,” and “frightened.” The versatility of this sign allows for effective communication of a wide range of emotions associated with fear, making it a valuable tool for expressing oneself in sign language.

Step-by-Step Guide to Signing Afraid in Sign Language (ASL)

Let’s break down the sign for “Afraid” into simple steps:

  1. Start by positioning your hands by your sides, with open or closed fists based on your preference.
  2. Raise your dominant hand up to chest level, while bringing your non-dominant hand to stomach level. This creates a balanced starting position.
  3. Smoothly bring your hands inward in front of your body with a steady and controlled movement.
  4. Keep your palms facing inward and spread your fingers wide in an open five-hand configuration to express fear.
  5. Pay attention to the spacing and extension of your fingers to create a clear hand shape.
  6. As you bring your hands inward, slightly tilt them downward as if embracing an imaginary object, adding depth and emphasis.
  7. Maintain a relaxed yet focused grip, allowing your hands to move smoothly.
  8. Accompany the hand gesture with appropriate facial expressions that convey fear, such as widened eyes, a slightly open mouth, or raised eyebrows.
  9. Practice the sign in front of a mirror to observe and refine your movements, effectively communicating the intended emotion.

Usage in Sentences

To incorporate the sign for “Afraid” into your daily conversations, use it in sentences like:

  • “I’m scared of spiders; they give me the creeps.”
  • “The thunderstorm scared me, so I quickly went indoors for safety.”
  • “He was frightened by the loud noise and jumped.”
  • “Whenever I see snakes, fear grips me and I freeze.”

Feel free to adapt the sign to express related emotions such as “scared,” “frightened,” and “fear” to convey a wide range of feelings accurately.

Tips for Mastering the Sign for Afraid in Sign Language

To ensure accurate execution of the sign for “Afraid,” keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Pay attention to proper hand placement and orientation. Ensure your hand is positioned correctly and facing the right direction.
  2. Focus on clear and precise movements, emphasizing the open five-hand shape. Be deliberate in your gestures and maintain a distinct shape with your hand.
  3. Maintain consistent and appropriate facial expressions that match the emotion of fear. Your facial expressions should reflect the intensity of fear, conveying the emotion effectively.
  4. Remember to control the speed and rhythm of your signing. Take your time with each sign and maintain a steady pace.
  5. Practice regularly to improve your signing skills. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you’ll become in executing the sign for “Afraid.”

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Hand shape and Positioning: Ensure your hand shape and positioning are accurate, especially when using the open five-hand. Pay attention to details like finger placement and orientation to convey the sign correctly.
  2. Facial Expressions: Maintain consistent, appropriate facial expressions that effectively convey fear. This includes widened eyes, raised eyebrows, and a tense or worried expression. Avoid overly exaggerated or inconsistent facial expressions that may confuse the intended message.
  3. Movement Consistency: Avoid inconsistent or sloppy movements that can hinder clear communication. Make sure your signing movements are smooth, precise, and deliberate. Inconsistent or jerky movements can make it difficult for others to understand your signing.
  4. Speed Control: Be mindful of your signing speed. Signing too fast may result in unclear or muddled signs, while signing too slowly may cause frustration or confusion for the viewer. Practice finding the right balance and pace for effective communication.
  5. Spatial Awareness: Pay attention to the space around you and ensure your signing is visible to others. Avoid blocking your hands or signing too close to your body, as it may make it difficult for others to see and understand your signs.
  6. Handshape Clarity: Emphasize the clarity of your handshapes to ensure accurate communication. Avoid blending or overlapping handshapes, as it can lead to misunderstandings.


The sign for Afraid in sign language is a powerful tool for expressing emotions. By practicing hand positioning, facial expressions, and usage in sentences, you can effectively convey fears and anxieties. Remember to practice and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it takes time and effort to perfect any skill. By doing so, you will improve communication skills and foster connections within the deaf community. Let’s learn and grow together, breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity through sign language.

Leave a Comment