You are viewing an old revision edited by Tom Shull on Thursday, May 15, 2014, 1:34 p.m. Read the current version edited by Holly S. on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, 12:22 a.m. .

The flick is a slight, but perceptible, forward and back movement that differentiates sucessive occurences of the same handshape at the side placement e.g., doves) or to emphasize a handshape by over-articulation.

Why do we flick?

When the same handshape occurs more than once in succession at the side placement, a flick is used so that each hadnshape can be seen by the receiver.

When cueing words like loves, craft, and horse, the same handshape occurs more than once at the side. A flick is produced between the two occurrences of that handshape to make sure that both are clear to the receiver.


In the previous examples, an asterisk (*) has been used in the cue notation to represent where a flick would be present. In some cases an apostrophe (‘)  is used. DailyCues used an asterish becuase stress marks in our dictioary could be easily confued with apostrophes.


Which handshapes sometimes require a flick? That’s a trick question. Any one of the eight handshapes in the American Cued Speech system may need a flick depending on their context. Additionally, while previous examples of the flick occured at the end of words, that is not always the case.

Beginning of Words

We may need to flick between handshapes at the beginning of words, as in the name Schwartz. Depending on your pronunciation of the following vowel, you may need to flick. Even though a side movement follows, the second occurrence of handshape 6 would not be distinguished without a flick. However, if you cue Schwartz with the chin placement, you do not need to flick because the hand moves away from the side placement. 

Flicks Within Words

A flick can also occur in the middle of a word or at word boundaries. Examine the following examples:

Read the following sentence. How might this appear to a deaf cue reader if the flick were omitted?

His crimes are infamous.

If the flick (which occurs between the words his and crimes) is not used, the sentence might be confused as follows:

His rhymes are infamous.

Want to see how well you can spot the flick? Try this flick quiz.

HELPFUL HINT: If you have a wandering side placement, you may not feel the need to flick. Working on a more consistent side placement may help you in your flick practice!


The following are instances when a flick is not necessary.

A Vowel Occurs Like-Handshapes

Flicks make cue each occurence of a handshape is seen clearly. In words like cokepopMom, and knob, there is no need to flick because a vowel occurs between the two occurrences of the same handshape. Each handhsape is clearly visiable, the first is established at the side and by returning to the side the final consonant is established. A flicj is needed when the same handshape must occur at the side in immediate succession. If a vowel (or another handshape) occurs between the like-handshapes, you do not need to flick.

  • Some fan - no flick (/f/ goes to the throat)
  • those - no flick (vowel occurs between the handshapes)
  • tooth gel - no flick (/ʤjj/ goes to the chin)
  • skim milk - no flick (/m/ for milk goes to the throat)

Likewise, a flick may disappear in connected discourse. The word {{lift|lɪˈftlift}} would contain a flick, but the words lift it would not if they are spoken without a pause. In this example the final /ttt/ in lift moves away from the side placement to connect to the next word, it.


Historically, flicks have not always gotten much time in introductory Cued Speech classes. Even in professionally produced materials and videos, flicks are given little attention and examples are limited. However, flicks can occur in places other than at the ends of words. Further, flicks can occur between handshapes other than handshapes 2, 3, and 5. 


Handshape 1

camouflaged, guidepost

Handshape 2

doves, drives, grooves, halves, involves, knives, leaves, loves, moves, olives, saves, serves, themselves, thieves, truths

Handshape 3

disrupted, enforced, hoarse, horse

Handshape 4

cornbread, rainbow, unknown

Handshape 5

comfortable, coughed, craft, harmful, left, rooftop, scuffed, soft, stuffed, laughed, sloughed

Handshape 6


More Practice 


External Links

  • Guidelines on the Mechanics of Cueing from the National Cued Speech Association
  • Flick Quiz - Look at words and phrases and decided if you need a FLICK or NO FLICK.
  • Flick Jeopardy - The classic gameshow with a cueing twist. Every correct answer needs a flick.


  • /dʌˈvz/
  • /duhˈvz/
  • /dŭˈvz/
  • 1sd2s*2s


  • /lʌˈvz/
  • /luhˈvz/
  • /lŭˈvz/
  • 6sd2s*2s


  • /kræˈft/
  • /kraˈft/
  • /krăˈft/
  • 2s3t5s*5s


  • /hɔˈrs/
  • /hawˈrs/
  • /hôˈrs/
  • 3c3s*3s


  • /ʃwoˈrts/
  • /shwohˈrts/
  • /shwōˈrts/
  • 6s*6sf3s5s3s


  • /ʃwɔˈrts/
  • /shwawˈrts/
  • /shwôˈrts/
  • 6s6c3s5s3s


  • /reɪˈnboʊˌ/
  • /rayˈnbohˌ/
  • /rāˈnbōˌ/
  • 3c5t4s*4sf


  • /flæˈʃlɑɪˌt/
  • /flaˈshlieˌt/
  • /flăˈshlīˌt/
  • 5s6t6s*6s5t5s


  • /ðoʊˈz/
  • /tHohˈz/
  • /t͟hōˈz/
  • 2sf2s


  • /kʌˈmftɚbəl/
  • /kuhˈmfturbəl/
  • /kŭˈmftûrbəl/
  • 2sd5s*5s5m4sd6s


  • /kɔˈft/
  • /kawˈft/
  • /kôˈft/
  • 2c5s*5s


  • /kræˈft/
  • /kraˈft/
  • /krăˈft/
  • 2s3t5s*5s


  • /hɑˈrmfəl/
  • /hahˈrmfəl/
  • /häˈrmfəl/
  • 3sf3s5s*5sd6s


  • /lɛˈft/
  • /lehˈft/
  • /lěˈft/
  • 6c5s*5s


  • /ruˈftɑˌp/
  • /rueˈftahˌp/
  • /ro͞oˈftäˌp/
  • 3c5s*5sf1s


  • /skʌˈft/
  • /skuhˈft/
  • /skŭˈft/
  • 3s2sd5s*5s


  • /sɔˈft/
  • /sawˈft/
  • /sôˈft/
  • 3c5s*5s


  • /stʌˈft/
  • /stuhˈft/
  • /stŭˈft/
  • 3s5sd5s*5s


  • /læˈft/
  • /laˈft/
  • /lăˈft/
  • 6t5s*5s


  • /slʌˈft/
  • /sluhˈft/
  • /slŭˈft/
  • 3s6sd5s*5s


  • /æˈkʃwəli/
  • /aˈkshwəlee/
  • /ăˈkshwəlē/
  • 5t2s6s*6sd6m


  • /wɛˈlʃ/
  • /wehˈlsh/
  • /wěˈlsh/
  • 6c6s*6s