ki·​ne·​sics kə-ˈnē-siks How to pronounce kinesics (audio)
plural in form but singular in construction
: a systematic study of the relationship between nonlinguistic body motions (such as blushes, shrugs, or eye movement) and communication

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Anthropologists began to take serious interest in nonverbal communication through gestures, postures, and facial expressions in the 1940s. It is believed, however, that the publication of Ray Birdwhistell’s 1952 book Introduction to Kinesics marked the beginning of formal research into what we know familiarly as "body language." Over 50 years later, the results of kinesics are deeply entrenched in our culture, giving us a whole new language with which to interpret everyday encounters and interaction.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web March’s program will also educate the viewer about the benefits of kinesics (body movement in nonverbal communication), proxemics (proper body spacing in communication), and haptics (the study of touching in nonverbal communication). Hank Beckman,, 28 Feb. 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kinesics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Greek kinēsis motion + English -ics

First Known Use

1952, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of kinesics was in 1952


Dictionary Entries Near kinesics

Cite this Entry

“Kinesics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



ki·​ne·​sics kə-ˈnē-siks How to pronounce kinesics (audio)
: the study of body motions (as blushes, shrugs, or eye movement) that communicate

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