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American Sign Language: "run"

WARNING: There are many different meanings of the English word "run." The right ASL sign for "run" depends on your meaning.


RUN:  Version 1
This version is a general sign for run that means to "move swiftly on foot so that both feet leave the ground during each stride" (

Both hands use "L" handshapes.  The right index finger is laying up against the left thumb. Both hands move forward as the index finger flex twice.  As the index fingers flex, the right index finger wraps around the left thumb.  If the thumbs bend a bit that is okay and simply a byproduct of flexing the index fingers.

Animation: "RUN"


This next version also means "run" as in ""move swiftly on foot so that both feet leave the ground during each stride."  Both hands are in "L" shapes, palms down.  Hands touch at the tips of the thumbs. Hands move forward as the index fingers flex twice.

RUN (Version 2)

Animation:  "RUN" (version 2)



In English the word "run" can be used to refer to a wide variety of concepts which have nothing to do with using your legs and feet to move swiftly:
a car engine running
run for office
a run in your stocking
a runny nose
"the runs" (diarrhea)

Each of these concepts would be signed differently and would not use either of the signs for "RUN" (shown above). Instead you would use ASL signs that have closer meanings to the actual concept.  For example "run for office" would be shown with the signs "volunteer"-APPLY COMPETE ______" and the specific office being sought (governor, mayor etc.)


Conceptual accuracy - various ways to sign RUN. 
It depends on on what you mean. 

Definition: To move at a speed faster than a walk 
Example: She RAN to the store 
Version 1: 
Version 2: 

Definition: To flee, escape 
Example: She RAN away from home 

Definition: To move about in a hurried and hectic way. 
Example: She spent the whole day RUNNING errands 

Definition: To run for office (an election contest). 
Examples: She RAN for mayor and won. 

Definition: To go back and forth. 
Example: She RAN back and forth to the bathroom. 

Definition: to continue in force, operation, or production. 
Example: The contract has two more years to RUN. 

Definition: to function or operate 
Example: She RAN the business from her home. 

Definition: to flow rapidly or under pressure 
Example: She RAN the water in the bathtub. 

Definition: To pass from one state or condition to another 
Example: She RAN into debt. 


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ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars

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