from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The use of the fingers and hands to communicate and convey ideas, as in the manual alphabet used by hearing-impaired and speech-impaired people.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The art of communicating ideas or conversing by the fingers; the language of the deaf and dumb. See deafmute.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The art of communicating ideas by certain movements and positions of the fingers; -- a method of conversing practiced by the deaf and dumb.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The use of the fingers and hands to communicate ideas, especially by the deaf.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Dactylology is a way to communicate and convey ideas by the use of figures and hands as in manual alphabets which are used by hearing and speech impaired people. There is various type of Dactylology: One hand, two hands, Deaf mute and Figure spelling.

    Dactylology is highly useful. It is used to teach deaf and dumb people. There are specific channels to provide information on the basis of Dactylogy. It is an amazing concept to improve the communication of the deaf and dumb at various levels and to teach them. Many institutes have taken up as a concept to provide education to the deaf and dumb. And hence it should be encouraged throughout the world. (from

    June 5, 2008

  • And you may want to avoid using the term "dumb" to refer to people who don't vocalize (speaking to the writer, not the quoter). :-)

    June 5, 2008

  • I'm not sure about this, rt. The pure meaning of dumb is okay. Granted, it may have taken on some pejorative connotations. Philosophically I could argue that trying to 'reclaim' dumb for at least its technical definition is no worse than bandying around akwardisms like people who don't vocalise.

    June 5, 2008

  • I wasn't suggesting we replace "dumb" with "people who don't vocalize," bilby. I was merely pointing out that many people (particularly those who are deaf or hard of hearing) don't necessarily appreciate the attempt to reclaim the word as meaning "nonspeaking." At least in my neck of the woods.

    June 5, 2008