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What Is an Eyebrow Flash?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
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An eyebrow flash is a form of non-verbal communication that is typically used as either a conscious or subconscious sign of interest or recognition. This expression is very quick, often lasting only a fraction of a second, yet it can be recognized and returned by someone who is not even aware of it happening. An eyebrow flash typically involves the raising of both eyebrows quickly, before lowering them again to a comfortable position. It is often used between people who know each other as a quick but recognizable indication of familiarity, and it can be a sign of flirtation or interest.

As the name suggests, an eyebrow flash is a very fast non-verbal form of communication, which is typically sent and received on a subconscious level. The entire expression occurs in less than one second and consists of someone raising his or her eyebrows slightly and then lowering them to a normal position. Most people use this expression without even realizing they are doing so, though conscious eyebrow raises can also convey information in a non-verbal way.

One of the most common ways in which an eyebrow flash can be used is as a signal of recognition between two people who know each other. When someone sees a person he or she knows, especially at a distance or across a crowded room, then he or she might display a flash in that moment to acknowledge the other person. It is typically meant as a simple indicator by one person that he or she knows and recognizes someone else.

An eyebrow flash can also occur as a form of flirtation, especially between two people who do not already know each other. This is often received, at a subconscious level, by another person as an indicator of interest in a romantic or sexual way. Rather than simply indicating that one person knows another, it is used to demonstrate interest and attraction. There are a number of other non-verbal cues that can indicate flirtation in similar ways, such as smiling and direct eye contact.

Some forms of this gesture, however, may be seen as a non-verbal indicator of a negative idea, such as disapproval. A single eyebrow raised suddenly and then dropped back down can be used by someone as a sign of negative curiosity. It can be seen as a non-verbal question that demonstrates doubt regarding what someone has heard. Since this type of eyebrow flash is also often displayed subconsciously, it can potentially betray a person’s feelings about someone or an idea.

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Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Jul 18, 2012

I tend to do the eyebrow flash when I'm surprised or when I'm tying to tell someone something without actually speaking or pointing.

For example, we were at a restaurant with my mom the other day and an acquaintance sat at a table close to us. My mom didn't see her though and I didn't want to tell her or point with my finger, so I did the eyebrow flash in her direction really quick. My turned and saw her then.

I apparently also do this when I'm surprised. I didn't even know that I did until a friend told me.

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