AskDefine | Define nodding

Dictionary Definition

nodding adj : having branches or flower heads that bend downward; "nodding daffodils"; "the pendulous branches of a weeping willow"; "lilacs with drooping panicles of fragrant flowers" [syn: cernuous, drooping, pendulous]nod


1 a sign of assent or salutation or command
2 the act of nodding the head


1 express or signify by nodding; "He nodded his approval"
2 lower and raise the head, as to indicate assent or agreement or confirmation; "The teacher nodded when the student gave the right answer"
3 let the head fall forward through drowsiness; "The old man was nodding in his chair"
4 sway gently back and forth, as is in a nodding motion; "the flowers were nodding in the breeze"
5 be almost asleep; "The old man sat nodding by the fireplace" [also: nodding, nodded]nodding See nod

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. present participle of nod

Extensive Definition

A nod of the head is a gesture in which the head is tilted in alternating up and down arcs along the sagittal plane. In many cultures, it is most commonly, but not universally, used to indicate agreement, acceptance, or acknowledgment. "Nod" or "nodding" can also be used as a slang term to describe the physiological side effect related to consuming heroin or other opiates. Casual heroin users tend to nod as they drift between sleep and consciousness.

Nodding to indicate acceptance

Different cultures assign different meanings to the gesture. Nodding to indicate "yes" is widespread, and appears in a large number of diverse cultural and linguistic groups. Areas in which nodding generally takes this meaning include Indian subcontinent (note that the head bobble also shows agreement there), Western Europe, and North America. Nodding may also be used as a sign of recognition in some areas.


There are varying theories as to why nodding is so frequently used to mean "yes". One simple theory is that it is a form of bowing, indicating that one is prepared to accept what another person is saying or requesting. It has also been stated that babies, when hungry, search for their mother's milk by moving their heads vertically, but decline milk by turning their head from side to side. This has led some to speculate that nodding for "yes" is at least partially innate, although an explanation for some cultures' divergence would then be required.
An early survey of nodding and other gestures was The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, written by Charles Darwin in 1872. Darwin wrote to missionaries in many parts of the world asking for information on local gestures, and concluded that nodding for "yes" was common to many different groups.

Nodding to indicate rejection

In some countries (Bulgaria and Sri Lanka) nodding actually has the opposite meaning: "no". It is possible that with the spread of Western culture, the Western use of the gesture has supplanted local usage in certain places.
Rumor has it that during World War II in Bulgaria, people were trained to reverse the meaning of shaking and nodding heads in an attempt to confuse spies who had infiltrated the country. The habit stuck and now depending on the individual, people in Bulgaria can use shaking and nodding one's head for both meanings.

Nod of acknowledgment

The nod of acknowledgment is a slight nod of the head in either a slight upwards or slight downwards motion. Despite the fact that the nod of acknowledgment is generally used among males, there are women that choose this method of acknowledgment over the standard verbal greeting or a simple wave of the hand. Although this may seem like a simple gesture there are many nuances that can either make an exchange or break it.


The nodding movement is used also in moving figures also known as bobbleheads installed on vehicles like cars where the car movements induce oscillations of the figure that seems to be nodding.

External links

nodding in German: Nicken
nodding in Dutch: Knik (gebaar)
nodding in Polish: Nodding
nodding in Chinese: 点头

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

absent, absentminded, absorbed, abstracted, anesthetized, asleep, bagging, baggy, ballooning, bemused, castle-building, casual, cataleptic, comatose, daydreaming, daydreamy, distant, doped, dozy, dreaming, dreamy, drooping, droopy, drowsing, drowsy, drugged, drugged with sleep, ecstatic, elsewhere, engrossed, faraway, floppy, goofing off, half asleep, half-awake, heavy, heavy with sleep, heavy-eyed, in a reverie, in a stupor, in the clouds, incautious, incomplete, languid, lethargic, limp, loose, lop, lop-eared, loppy, lost, lost in thought, meditative, mooning, moonraking, museful, musing, napping, narcoleptic, narcose, narcotized, narcous, oblivious, off-guard, oscitant, out of it, pensive, pipe-dreaming, preoccupied, rapt, sagging, sagging in folds, saggy, sedated, sleep-drowned, sleep-drunk, sleep-filled, sleep-swollen, sleepful, sleeping, sleepy, slight, slumberous, slumbery, snoozy, somewhere else, somnolent, soporific, stargazing, stretchy, stuporose, stuporous, superficial, swag, taken up, transported, unalert, uncautious, unconscious, unguarded, unprepared, unready, unvigilant, unwary, unwatchful, woolgathering, wrapped in thought, yawning, yawny
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1