High Five

This morning I sent a congratulatory “High Five” to my friend Greg England for a project labor of love he shared with his readers.

After sending him the message I was curious and decided to Google “High Five.” I found much more than I expected and I suppose it really could be filed under useless trivia. That being said, I decided to share it with you. Did any of you know all of this about the “High Five”?

The following information is from Wikipedia.

The high five is a celebratory hand gesture that occurs when two people simultaneously raise one hand, about head high, and push, slide or slap the flat of their palm and hand against the palm and flat hand of their partner. The originator of the high five is a subject of controversy.  In the United States, there is an initiative to celebrate the third Thursday of April as National High Five Day.

The origins of the term are said to belong to sports, specifically US Basketball, and the use of the phrase as a noun has been part of the Oxford English Dictionary since 1980 and as a verb since 1981.  The gesture takes its name from the ‘five’ fingers and the raising of the hand ‘high’. According to an article published on the Outsports web site, the first high five in baseball occurred between Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke of the Los Angeles Dodgers in late 1977.  This report has been challenged by Lamont Sleets, who played basketball for Murray State University and claims to be the originator of the high five in the 1960s.

In addition to the standard high five, several types of “five” exist, and this factor adds variety to the experience, which tends to maximize the satisfaction of participants. The “low five” had already been known, during the 1940s, in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) as “giving skin” or “slapping skin”.

A related gesture, the “high ten” involves the initiator raising two hands simultaneously to another person, and then making contact with both the reciprocator’s hands. This is also commonly known as a “double high five”.

If one initiates a high five (or any variation thereof) by offering a hand, and no reciprocal hand appears to consummate the gesture, the initiator is said to have been “left hanging”. This is considered, in social circles, to be somewhat embarrassing, or enlightening, depending on who the person is. Initiating a high five excessively can also be considered quite annoying to non-initiators.

In the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, actor Al Jolson is seen performing ‘the low five’ in celebration of the news of a Broadway audition. The gesture has since spread to sports and into broader popular culture.

Another variation is Diamond Dallas Page’s trademark, the “self high five” and popularized throughout the Pacific Northwest as a cultural trait of the area. The action consists of raising one hand, generally the right hand and tagging it with the other.

The “too slow” variation of a high five occurs when one appears to be engaging in a high five initiation; however, the initiator succeeds in pulling their hand away before anyone can make contact. This is the only known “five” that may be used as an insult as well as a compliment, and, as early as 1971, was commonly followed by the taunting expression “too slow, buffalo!”

There are many variations on this theme, with additions of “at the side” and other hand positions for the partner to contact the initiator’s hand, and thus a greater number of opportunities for the initiator to deceive the victim.

An air five is a variation however, the hands of the participants never physically touch.  This is commonly implemented if the participants are too far apart in proximity to engage in the typical high five. The participants may simply pretend to high five, or may make a mouth-noise to emulate the sound, use voices, or even slap the bottom of their forearms simultaneously, to produce a slapping sound similar to a physical high five.

Aren’t you sorry you asked?? Oh wait…you didn’t ask did you!

Color me with ‘writers block’ this morning. :))

2 comments for “High Five

  1. jel
    July 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I did not know this, Thank you! 😉

    I certainly didn’t either, and I’m not sure I’m any wiser now that I do know it. 🙂

  2. July 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

    And not one mention of high fives between overly white guys who actually miss making contact with each other’s hands!

    Greg, I wanted to be clever and put in my post, “you may see Greg’s blog HERE.” Of course the word ‘HERE’ would have been in blue and with one click of the mouse it would have taken the reader to your blog. Sad to say, I don’t know how to to that and I DO want to know how. So I emailed our blog guru, Brad, and am waiting on a reply and hope I can figure it out for future.

Comments are closed.