I recommend you just spell the word "Coke." There is a very
"legacy" version of the sign (see below) but it is very common to see adult native Deaf signers
just spell C-O-K-E.
COKE (legacy version)
I'm including this legacy version of the sign because you might still see it out
there in the community and I want you to recognize it and realize that it is not
a "joke" sign. It was used for many years. (And is still very
The sign for "Coke" as in
"Coco-Cola" looks as if you are jabbing a needle into your arm.
It is done by using your dominant hand index finger to poke your
non-dominant arm's bicep.
It's true folks. I'm not making this up! And I'm not talking about
"cocaine." I'm talking about the drink.
COKE ("Coco-Cola" soda-pop)
COKE (as in the drink) is an interesting sign that looks like you are sticking a
needle in your arm.
Why this is the case is debated somewhat in the Deaf world. Many people
think it is because of the idea of "shooting up" with Cocaine. I've
been told however by more than one old Deaf codger that the sign originally
had to do
with the idea that in the old days when Deaf kids would have to go to the
doctor to get a "shot" they would afterward be rewarded with a bottle of
p.s. The sign "cocaine" is totally different. It is an "A" hand, (palm
left, if you are right handed) brought to the nose with a very small double
In a message dated 4/17/2008 12:36:53 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
I've been enjoying your excellent website & came across the sign for
"coke" & your speculations as to its origin. Here's my 2 cents:
According to my Dad--Georgia born & raised (Georgia being the home of
said beverage)--when he was growing up in the 30's & 40's, the slang
term for a "coke" was "dope"--as in, "Give me a dope". [Presumably this
was a reference to the cocaine that was apparently part of the original
formula.] Maybe that "hearing" slang term found its way into sign
language as well.
Midlothian Middle School
Also see: PEPSI
You can learn
American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com © Dr. William Vicars