Who invented the high five?

Legend has it that the High Five may have originated as long ago as World War II… Here are some facts and fiction around our favourite greeting.
Who invented the high five?
Sharne McDonald

There is something so great about high fives… the sudden burst of energy and elation as you slap palms with a friend, colleague or even a stranger in a mutual recognition or appreciation of that person or the situation you find yourselves in. Nothing says “job well done” as instantly as a high five! Participating in a high five immediately makes you complicit to the other person’s reason for initiating the gesture (so give your high fives wisely 😏). Of course, they can also go horribly wrong (all high fives are equal, but some are more equal than others)…

Not this.

“Ok Google, what is a high five?”

high five
1. a gesture of celebration or greeting in which two people slap each other’s palms with their arms raised.
1. greet (someone) by slapping the palms of their raised arms with one’s own.
‘the two officers high-fived each other’

So, where exactly does the high five come from?

There seems to be plenty of stories around the origin of the high five and even people who claimed to have invented it themselves (like Magic Johnson who suggested that he created the high five in the 1970s). Some say it started in women’s volleyball in the 1960s, others say it came from a greeting done by American GI’s during World War II in Tokyo, Japan. The high five also features in a 1960s French movie called Breathless. It is generally accepted, though, that the first real high five was done by Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team on October 2, 1977. This is how journalist Jon Mooallem from ESPN tells the story:

It was a wild, triumphant moment and a good omen as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” says Baker, “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

The popularity of high-fiving in various sports escalated from then on, with t-shirts being made and high fives given all throughout a game to celebrate small victories. As Jon Mooallem and Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim notes:

“‘The high five liberated everybody. It gave you permission to enjoy your high points.’ And not just in sports but at your kid’s spelling bee or your office after a killer PowerPoint presentation.”

The use of the phrase “high five” has been part of the Oxford English Dictionary since the early ’80s and is related to the slang “give me five”, “slap me five”, “slip me five” and “give me (some) skin”, which is a request for some form of a handshake — with the word “five” referring to the digits of your hand. The “high five” then seems to have actually originated from the “low five”, which was called for by saying “gimme some skin” and has been a part of African-American Jazz and hipster culture since at least the 1920s. Nowadays, you can find endless illustrations and videos showing humorous variations of the high five. The point is that it’s always a joyful, light-hearted and fun celebration of everyday life.

Ref: Wikipedia, ESPN.

High fives are for everyone!

Fun facts:

Heroes’ high five: WWI couriers, Frank Ruse, 97, left and Alan Ross, 105, salute each other in 1993. (Photo from the Toronto Star archives and the Virtual Reference Library)

Handshakes 🤝🏽 Must Fall!

Why not Try Hi5 🙌 today?