What Does Throwing Up 4s Mean: Exploring the Significance of Hand Gestures in Urban Culture

In urban culture, hand gestures play a significant role in communication and expression. One such gesture is “throwing up 4s,” which involves extending the thumb, index, ring, and pinky fingers while keeping the middle finger tucked in. But what does throwing up 4s mean? In this article, we’ll explore the history and significance of this hand gesture.

Origins of Throwing Up 4s

Throwing up 4s is commonly associated with the Bloods gang, a predominantly African American gang that originated in Los Angeles in the 1970s. The hand gesture is believed to represent the number 4, which stands for “Four Corner Hustlers,” a street gang from Chicago.

However, the exact origins of throwing up 4s are unclear, and it’s possible that the gesture has multiple meanings depending on the context and the individual using it. Some people use the gesture to signal their affiliation with a particular gang or neighborhood, while others use it as a general greeting or expression of solidarity.

The Meaning of Throwing Up 4s

In gang culture, throwing up 4s is often used to signify membership or affiliation. For example, a Blood might throw up 4s to indicate their allegiance to the gang and to warn rival gangs to stay away. Similarly, members of other gangs might use their own hand gestures to assert their dominance or to challenge their rivals.

However, not everyone who throws up 4s is involved in gang activity. In some cases, the gesture is used as a form of “repurposing” or “resignifying,” in which an existing symbol or gesture is given a new meaning or context. For example, some people might throw up 4s as a way to express their love for their hometown or to show support for a local sports team.

The Risks of Throwing Up 4s

While throwing up 4s might seem like a harmless gesture, it can actually be quite dangerous in certain contexts. In gang-infested areas, flashing a hand gesture associated with a rival gang can be seen as a provocation and can lead to violence. Even in areas where gangs are not prevalent, throwing up 4s can attract unwanted attention and can make people feel unsafe.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who throws up 4s is involved in gang activity, and that the meaning of the gesture can vary depending on the context and the individual using it. However, if you’re unsure about the potential risks of a particular gesture, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid using it altogether.

Alternatives to Throwing Up 4s

If you want to express your affiliation or support without resorting to hand gestures, there are plenty of alternatives available. For example, you might wear a shirt or hat with your favorite team’s logo, or you might use verbal cues like a specific greeting or phrase.

In some cases, you might be able to find a less provocative hand gesture that still conveys the meaning you’re looking for. For example, instead of throwing up 4s, you might extend your thumb and index finger to create a “V” shape, which is a commonly used gesture for victory or peace.


In conclusion, throwing up 4s is a hand gesture that has a complex and varied history in urban culture. While it’s most commonly associated with gang activity, the meaning of the gesture can vary depending on the context and the individual using it.

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