Talk to the hand

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"Talk to the hand" (or "tell it to the hand") is an English language slang phrase associated with the 1990s. It originated as a sarcastic way of saying one does not want to hear what the person who is speaking is saying.[1]

It is often elongated to a phrase such as "Talk to the hand, because the ears ain't listening" or "Talk to the hand, because the face ain't listening."[2]

Meaning and usage

Two people demonstrate "Talk to the Hand"

The phrase is often considered to be sarcastic or obnoxious. The phrase was popularized by actor and comedian Martin Lawrence in his 1992 sitcom Martin.[3] The phrase is formally reported from as early as 1995, when a local Indianapolis magazine story noted "Talk to the hand—The phrase, which means, 'Shut up', is accompanied by a hand in front of the victim's face".[4]

It is usually accompanied by the gesture of extending one arm toward the other person, with the palm of that hand facing the person being insulted, in the manner of the gesture to stop. Use of the phrase was noted to be a passing trend, as one author noted in advising writers against the use of quickly dated slang: "Slang is trendy. Last year every young person I knew was saying 'Talk to the hand'. Now no one even remembers 'Talk to the hand'".[5]

Lynne Truss, noted for writing the bestselling Eats, Shoots & Leaves, used the phrase as the title and prime example in her 2006 book, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today.[6]

In 2001, British R&B girl group Honeyz released the single "Talk to the Hand".

See also


  1. "Talk to the hand: definition". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  2. Martin, Gary (1996). "The meaning and origin of the expression: Talk to the hand ('cause the face ain't listening)". The Phrase Finder. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  3. Tyrone Mobley (30 June 2004). Victims Of The Game: The Manipulation. AuthorHouse. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-1-4184-4686-4. Retrieved 3 January 2013. Just look at the contribution giving by Martin Lawrence, remember 'TALK TO THE HAND,' whether or not he created is not important, what is important, is that he perpetuated it to the Black masses as cool and righteous behavior. This little gesture is something that most negative minded Black woman and now a lot of men have incorporated into their communication system because they think its cute.
  4. "Slanguage", Indianapolis Monthly, Emmis Communications, vol. 18 no. 14, p. 24, August 1995, ISSN 0899-0328, retrieved 3 January 2013
  5. Jack Rawlins, The Writer's Way (2001), p. 66.
  6. Lynne Truss, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, Or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door (2006).
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