- a gesture of greeting or affirmation in which two people lightly tap each other’s clenched fist.
- greet (someone) by lightly tapping their clenched fist with one’s own.
Since 2008 this uncommon greeting has grown in popularity, partly due to the US President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama.
During a presidential campaign speech in Minnesota in 2008, President Obama’s wife, Michelle fist bumped Barack in a gesture of support.
This moment brought the fist bump (also referred to as the ‘pound’ or ‘dap’) into the mainstream, with the Washington Post labelling it as “the fist bump heard around the world.”
Prompting mass media coverage, a need for definition and even medical studies, the fist bump is becoming a common gesture.
In fact, new research examining different forms of greetings and how they affect the transmission of E.coli, released by Aberystwyth University, Wales, is calling for doctors who choose to shake their patients hands to switch to a fist bump, for the sake of hygiene.
According to research findings, ‘The fist bump: a more hygienic alternative to the handshake’, compared to the handshake, can reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses by up to 90 per cent.
“If the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases,” said study author, Dr Dave Whitworth.
“When there’s flu going round or coughs and colds, definitely if you want to touch someone as a greeting, a fist bump is much better than a handshake.
“It potentially could have a significant impact on reducing flu when there is an epidemic,” Dr Whitworth said.
The research revealed strong handshakes are likely to spread the most bacteria, while a high-five can halve the spread of bacteria to that of a handshake. Furthermore, a fist bump decreases disease spread 10-fold compared to a handshake.
So next time you greet a friend, family member, patient, colleague or anyone else, why not offer them a ‘Presidentially-approved’ fist bump instead of a regular old handshake!
‘The fist bump: a more hygienic alternative to the handshake,’ is published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.