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The ASL sign for "sugar" has a couple of main versions.

Lots of folks sign SWEET in context to mean "sugar."

Personally I prefer to do the sign for SUGAR using two fingers instead of all of the fingers.


Some folks might not tuck in the thumb. I do. If you see someone do this sign with the thumb alongside instead of bent underneath -- don't worry about it.

This sign is similar to the sign for "cute." 
One main difference though is that you tend to use more facial expression when signing "cute" than when signing sugar.
The sign starts an inch out from the chin.  Then the pads of the index and middle fingers brush against the chin as the fingers bend at the large knuckles. Use a double motion.
Also compare with:  SWEET

Note that CUTE has a couple of versions -- one that uses a single quick downward movement while bending at the large knuckles, and a more "awwww cuuuute" type version with a repeated movement.

In a message dated 8/2/2007 6:47:12 AM Pacific Daylight Time, dumbledorenj04@ [removed for privacy] writes:

Dr. Bill,
Gary here.  I attend an informal class in a friends home and we are confused.  Diabetes, sugar, cute, sweet.  The differences?
Thank you!



Some signs are more encompassing than other signs.  Which is to say, certain signs are more general, they have more interpretations, and depend more on context (the signs or sentences preceding or following the sign), syntax (the word order of the sentence), or pragmatics (the environment or  situation in which the communication takes place) to determine their meaning.  "SWEET" is such a sign.
The "flat hand" that rubs/bends twice downward on the chin is can be interpreted as:
and, when combined with the sign "SOUP," can be interpreted as "pudding."

It seems to me that my older friends tend to use the SWEET sign to also mean "sugar."  Coffee drinkers often use the SWEET sign to mean "sugar" too.  (Just like many of them use the sign "MILK" to mean "cream" when discussing coffee.)


The modified "U/H" handshape (thumb alongside) that rubs/bends twice downward on the chin can be interpreted as:
CANDY-(rare_version: off the chin or cheek using a "U-handshape)
Note:  If a guy or girl is "hot" as in "very good looking" the above sign can be modified to use a single downward movement that is much more exaggerated and held longer at the end of the sign than the standard sign for CUTE.  If used, the facial expression tends to look as if you were doing a "whistle."  I'm sure that expression is simply how your lips look when you pronounce the letter "U." 

Much of the time however, CUTE is done with a double movement. Sometimes the only difference between "cute" and "sugar" is your facial expression.  "Sugar" is neutral.  "Cute" tends to use an much more facial expression (imagine how you look when looking at a baby in a stroller).
"Diabetes" has a second and third variation:
2. "D" twisting on the neck
3. "D" rubbing downward twice on the upper right chest area (if you are right handed). 


If you go over to spreadthesign (dot) com and note their sugar entry you will see the "SWEET / sugar" version but look under the "yellow sugar" entry and you'll see the CUTE / sugar version (as of 12/30/2019. 

Handspeak does the CUTE / SUGAR version:


American Sign Language University ASL resources by Dr. William Vicars
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