What Do Head Shakes Mean?


Quick Answer

In most cultures, a slow and lengthy up-and-down nod signifies agreement and understanding, while small nods signify approval or encouragement. A rapid and fast nod depicts impatience. Shaking of the head from left to right also holds different meanings. For instance, a fast, rhythmic side-to-side shake implies disagreement, while slow, irregular movements indicate misunderstanding. The Indian head wobble can mean yes, no, maybe or hello depending on the circumstances.

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Full Answer

Whether a person shakes her head up and down or left and right, the meaning she conveys depends on several factors. These factors include the culture as well as the speed and rhythm of the motion. In most cultures, a head nod and a horizontal shake signify a “Yes” and “No” respectively. However, in a few Balkan Countries such as Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria, they mean the exact opposite.In India, the head wobble, which is at times referred to as the head bobble, combines both the head nod and the sideways head shake. Depending on the rhythm and speed of the wobble, a person passes across different meanings. For instance, a fast continuous wobble denotes comprehension. A quick side-to-side wobble means “Yes,” while a slow, soft wobble indicates respect and friendship.

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