Why Do We Put Finger On The Mouth (What does it really mean?)

Body language finger on mouth

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One of the most common gestures that people use is to put a finger on their mouth. This can have a variety of meanings, depending on how it is used and the context of the situation.

The meaning of this gesture can vary from person to person, but it often has something to do with being quiet or telling someone else to be quiet.

This gesture usually stems from childhood; a parent tells a child to be quiet in a game of hiding and seek or with a stern look on their face.

Placing the finger on the mouth is a universal gesture used around the world.

Understanding how to read body language

Body language can tell you a lot about the other person. It can also tell you if the person is feeling unwell, stressed or happy or sad and you can pick up on many other emotions also.

There are many different parts of the body that give off different cues to show how they feel. For example, if someone crosses their arms, it could mean that they are feeling defensive or guarded, but that would also depend on the context of the situation.

It can also be used to find out what people want or need, these are called non-verbals communicating their thoughts and feelings.

You would use non-verbal cues naturally in your everyday life.

Body language is an important factor in communication and understanding others.

What is the context in body language

Context is the environment or circumstances of an event, situation, etc.

The context in body language can be explained by examining three main parts:

  • The setting: the environment and situation of communication.
  • The person: emotions and intentions.
  • Communication: facial expressions and gestures of the speaker.

When analyzing someone else’s body language, we need to take into account all three examples above in order to get a true read on the situation.

How to baseline in body language

The following are some helpful tips for baselining.

A baseline is a way of analyzing a person in their natural environment. You have to notice any ticks, tells, or cues they do naturally when relaxed.

Once you have a good baseline of someone’s natural body language, you can use this information if they deviate from it.

Body language finger over mouth meaning

Body language finger over mouth meaning

The finger over the mouth is known in the body language world as an illustrator.

An illustrator is a way of controlling a conversation to express oneself with more than just words.

We see this nonverbal communication when someone is trying to be quiet.

You will usually see this gesture used by teachers. They use it to control the volume in a room when a student is particularly “loud”.

Finger over the mouth for a man

The gesture is most often used to silence a person who is speaking too much, and the gesture can be seen in many different cultures.

When a person becomes engrossed in something, they’re often seen touching their mouth with their fingers. This shows that they want to stay focused and don’t want to be disturbed.

Finger over the mouth for woman meaning

You will often see this gesture from a woman or parent to keep their children quiet.

A woman might put her finger over her mouth when shushing a man in order to take them somewhere

Does a finger over the mouth mean that person is lying

In the past, a person’s words were the only way to verify that they were telling the truth. Nowadays, because of social media and celebrities’ obsession with posting a lot of pictures on Instagram, we can tell if a person is lying just by looking at their body language.

Putting a finger over one’s mouth can be seen as suppressing something or holding something back. It’s a way of telling oneself to be quiet, just like a parent would do.

However, content is important when analyzing body language.


Finger on the mouth in body language communication is a powerful way in which a person expresses their thoughts and feelings without words.

It is seen when someone is trying to be quiet or wants you to be quiet. This person may use this form of communication to recuperate or stop themselves from talking.

This is a gesture that has been around for a long time and has been adopted by many cultures. In some cultures, this gesture may have different meanings such as no good, stop talking, or more suggestive, etc.

If you would like to learn more about the body language of the mouth please check out our other blog on touching the mouth.

Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor Body Language Expert