Body Movements – ESL Vocabulary
By Kenneth Beare│ ThoughtCo│4 min
There are a number of verbs that used to express body movements. These are movements made with a specific part of the body. Here are some examples:
He clapped his hands in time to the music.
Stop scratching that would. It’ll never heal!
Nod once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’.
She whistled a tune as she walked down the street.
The following chart provides each verb indicating the part of the body used to make the movement, as well as providing a definition and an example for each verb.
|eyes||wink the eye; close eye rapidly without conscious effort; link wink but not intended||He blinked rapidly as he tried to see in the bright sun.|
|glance||eyes||a quick look at something or someone||He glanced at the documents and gave his OK.|
|stare||eyes||a long penetrating look at something or someone||He stared at the painting on the wall for over ten minutes.|
|wink||eye||close eye rapidly with a conscious effort; like blink but intended||He gave me a wink to signal that he understood.|
|point||finger||spot or show something with the finger||He pointed to his friend in the crowd.|
|scratch||finger||scrape the skin||If something itches then you probably need to scratch it.|
|kick||foot||strike with the foot||He kicked the ball into the goal.|
|clap||hands||applaud||The audience clapped enthusiastically at the end of the concert.|
|punch||hands||to strike with a fist||Boxers try to knock out their opponents by punching them in the face.|
|shake||hands||move back and forth; greeting when seeing someone||He shook the present to see if he could understand what was inside|
|slap||hands||strike with an open hand||Don’t ever slap a child, no matter how angry you become.|
|smack||hands||similar to slap||He smacked the table hard to emphasize the point he had just made.|
|nod||head||to move the head up and down||He nodded his approval of what the candidate was saying as he was listening.|
|shake||head||to move the head from side to side||He shook his head violently to show his disagreement with what she was saying.|
|kiss||lips||touch with the lips||He sweetly kissed his wife as they toasted their fiftieth wedding anniversary.|
|whistle||lips / mouth||make a sound by blowing air through the lips||He whistled his favorite tune as he drove to work.|
|eat||mouth||to introduce food into the body||He usually eats lunch at noon.|
|mutter||mouth||to speak softly, often in a manner which is hard to understand||He muttered something about how difficult his boss was and went back to work.|
|talk||mouth||to speak||They spoke about old times and the fun they had had together as children.|
|taste||mouth||to perceive flavor with the tongue||He tasted the vintage wine with relish.|
|whisper||mouth||to speak softly, usually without voice||He whispered his secret into my ear.|
|breathe||mouth||to respire; take air into the lungs||Just breathe that wonderful morning air. Isn’t it fantastic!|
|smell||nose||to sense through the nose; to give scent||Roses smell wonderful.|
|sniff||nose||short inhalation, often to smell something||He sniffed the various perfumes and decided on Joy No. 4.|
|shrug||shoulder||raise the shoulders, usually to show indifference to something||He shrugged when I asked him to explain why he had arrived late.|
|bite||mouth||grip with the teeth and introduce into the mouth||He took a big bite out of the fresh apple|
|chew||mouth||grind food with the teeth||You should always chew your food thoroughly before swallowing.|
|stub||toe||strike one’s toe into something||He stubbed his toe on the door.|
|lick||tongue||draw tongue across something||He licked his ice-cream cone contentedly.|
|swallow||throat||send down the throat, usually food and drink||He swallowed his food even though he wasn’t hungry.|
Body Movements Quiz
Use one of the verbs from the chart to fill in the gap for each of these sentences. Be careful with verb conjugation.
- Just relax, _______ through your mouth and think about happy times.
- He just ________ his shoulders and walked away.
- _____ your secret into my ear. I won’t tell anyone. I promise!
- We ______ hands before we began the meeting yesterday.
- Try to _____ the ball into the goal of the other team, not ours!
- If you put so much food into your mouth you won’t be able to _____.
- She _____ at her friend, letting her know that this was a joke.
- Don’t chew on hard candy. _____ it and it will last longer.
- She ______ the sauce and decided it needed some more salt.
- I don’t like to ______ into other people’s eyes for too long. It makes me nervous.
- tasted (sniffed / smelled)
Practice more with these body movement quizzes.