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The high sign

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 18, 2007

In Reply to: The high sign posted by Gary Graves on July 17, 2007

: I'd like to know the origin and history of "give me the high sign".

An often prearranged secret sign or signal intended especially to warn or inform. "My wife gave me the high sign that it was time to leave the party." "He gave the high sign that the coast was clear."

It has been in use since the beginning of the last century, as a silent signal that something can be done, should be done, or should be avoided, or anything else that can easily be signaled by a simple gesture. I don't know why "high," but often the gesture is made with a hand held high enough to be visible to those who have their attention on the signaler. A wave of the hand can be a high sign, so can a significant lift of the chin while tilting the head. ("It's time to go home, dear.") So can the thumb touching the forefinger or the big finger. ("Well done!" inter alia.)