Western Hand diagram

The following list is a modified version of a keyword list that was given to me by my palmistry teacher who tailored and shared the list passed on by her teacher. The purpose of keywords is to help students grasp basic palmistry. Keywords are simplistic, intended to be an introduction to the subject, not concrete definitions of human nature. They’re meant to evoke images, ideas, and feelings that provide insight into our selves and others. As I’ve pointed out many times, every detail should be examined and interpreted in the context of the whole person and all other details at the same time. I’ve provided links (in blue) to illustrations and more information.

DOMINANT HAND: writing hand, conscious mind, what you do with what you’ve got

PASSIVE HAND: subconscious mind, basic character, innate behavioral patterns, natural talents, abilities, and propensities

HAND SHAPES: relationship between fingers and palms

The Four Archetypes

Long palm short fingers: Intuitive, large picture person, inspired, passionate, restless

Square palm short fingers: Practical, practical, responsible, reliable, dependable

Square palm long fingers: Thinking, social, communicative, versatile, needs space

Long palm long fingers: Feeling, most sensitive, vulnerable, protective, psychic

FINGER LENGTH: in relationship to palm / whole hand

Long: love of detail, suspicious, skeptical, sensitive, slow, thoughtful, careful, investigative

Short: intuitive, impatient, restless, easily bored, quick, hasty, needs to see the whole picture

FINGERS: positive traits based on physical attributes

Index finger: ambitious, proud, career minded, goal oriented, natural leader, partner well

Middle finger: dependable, organized, efficient, patient, faithful, technical, strategic

Ring finger: versatile, adaptable, creative, expressive, likeable, dramatic

Pinkie finger: communicative, curious, quick-witted, clever, childlike

FINGERS: negative traits based on physical attributes

Index finger: low self-esteem, critical, judgmental, controlling, indulgent with food

Middle finger: self-critical, frustrated, overly responsible, guilty, depressed

Ring finger: spread too thin, distracted, appearance oriented, gambler

Pinkie finger: restless, nervous, superficial, deceitful, con artist

SPACE BETWEEN FINGERS: relates to particular fingers affected

Wide space: need for freedom, sense of adventure, willingness to try new things

Moderate space: satisfaction with the status quo, not subject to extremes

Narrow space: cautious, private, takes direction well, doesn’t rock the boat

FINGER TIPS: 5 primary shapes, can be any combination of fingers

fingertip shapes and prints copy

Spatulate: originality, inventive ability, unconventionality, needs activity, realism

Square: precise, orderly, practical, useful, punctual, systematic

Round: combines and balances spatulate and square qualities without extremes

Conic: idealistic, romantic, emotional, love of beauty & harmony

Pointed: dreamer, idealist, poetic, inspired, spontaneous, impractical, psychic

NAILS: takes six months to grow, timing = center of nail is 3 months, tip is 6 months

Long & broad: frank, honest, open, direct, balanced, healthy

Broad: physical strength, stamina, steadiness

Long & narrow: nervous, intuitive, lack of robustness, possible psychic ability

Small or short: curious, inquiring nature

Very short: (may be bitten) critical nature, nit picky, argumentative

Cross ridges: trauma. Illness, health problems

Vertical ridges: nervous condition, easily stressed, increases naturally with age

Bulbous / whitish: bronchial / respiratory / circulatory problems, throat, lungs, and heart

KNOTS: located at joints of fingers, size of knot indicates degree of qualities

No knots: intuitive, impulsive, spontaneous, aesthetic, inclined to be social

Top knot: mental order, analytical, systematic, methodical, deliberate, thoughtful, careful

Bottom knot: material order, neat, organized, ordered, everything in its place, OCD

THUMB: how it’s formed, size, and how it’s set on the hands

Tip: will power, determination, ability to command

Second phalanx: logic, perception, judgment, reasoning ability

Large: (higher than middle of 3rd phalange of index finger) strong character, natural leader, guided by head, desires practical results

Small: (lower than middle of 3rd phalange of index finger) weak character, follower, guided by heart, sentimental, impressionable.

High set: cautious, private, less adaptable mind

Medium set: balanced, reasonable, sensible

Low set: (check position & how thumb is held) generous, independent, loves independence for others, impulsive, open adaptable mind, quick to grasp concepts


Elementary: dense, heavy, coarse, tactless, no mental agility

Broad: determined, strong, physical energy & stamina, may be aggressive & blunt

Column: shapely thumb, strong will, tact, refinement

Paddle: broad tip with waisted 2nd phalanx, mental determination with tact & diplomacy

Nervous: flattened tip, lack of balanced energy, nervous mind & energy

Clubbed: (tip short & broad with short broad nail) often hereditary, obstinate, possible explosive reactions in difficult situations, crimes of passion, ‘murderer’s thumb’

Waisted: logic phalanx narrowing at center, refined logic, tact, mental agility, able to gently persuade, diplomacy

Stiff: practical, economical, stingy, willful, stubborn, cautious, reserved, traditional

flexible thumbSupple: (flexible – bends backward) extravagant, adaptable, emotional extremes, sentimental, generous, sympathetic, often have trouble saying ‘no’




THREE WORLDS: hand as whole and individual phalanges of fingers

First world: mental & intellectual qualities, higher learning, ideas, thought, spiritual

Second world: practical, business, commercial, day-to-day routine & energy

Third world: baser, instinctual, animal nature, luxury, laziness, sensuality, material values, “what’s in it for me”

BASIC LINES: beginnings, endings, meanings

Identifying lines

Life line: begins at thumb wraps around ball of thumb – about quality, not quantity of life

Heart line: begins under pinkie, traverses towards index finger, expression of feelings

Head line: begins near thumb, crosses toward percussion, how a person thinks

Fate line: begins near base of palm, rises toward fingers, quality and direction of career

Timing on lines

QUALITIES OF LINES: life cycles and timing can be roughly judged on lines

qualities of lines
obstacles, being divided for that period, indecision,

Chains: one obstacle after the other, chronic struggle about choices or directions

Dots: acute problems, possible headaches, heartaches, or physical obstructions

Bars: obstacle that can prevent the person from moving forward for a time

Breaks: usually an ending that implies new beginnings will follow

Crosses: challenges that need to be met, character building experiences

Forks: usually at end of line, taking two directions, conflict with decision-making

Grilles: frequently under middle finger, perfectionism, own worst critic, depression

Tassels: usually at end of line, energy dispersed or distracted near end of life.

TEXTURE: back of hand – think of extremes (baby’s butt vs ditch digger)

skin textureFine: very refined, sensitive, cultivated (smooth with small pores)

Medium: normal, healthy, good resistance to life’s knocks

Coarse: unrefined, earthy, may be vulgar (rough skin with large pores)



CONSISTENCY: shake hands, press under fingers, heel of hand, ball of thumb

Flabby: lazy, dreamer, procrastinator, desires ease and luxury, needs physical exercise

Soft: tends toward laziness, needs encouragement to develop energy

Elastic: considered healthiest, active, responsible, trustworthy, a doer

Hard: tends to be rigid, inadaptable, dense, best for physical labor

FLEXIBILITY: bend wrist and fingers back at joints

Very flexible: open minded, adaptable, versatile, distracted, extravagant, impressionable, tend to spread themselves too thin, possible mood swings

Straight: balanced, self-contained, in control, able to concentrate

Stiff: fingers don’t bend, may curve inwards, cautious, narrow, stingy

COLOR: examine nails, palms, and lines

White: cold, distant, selfish

Pink: healthy, normal blood flow (especially ball of thumb and under index finger), warm, generous, sympathetic, appreciative

Red: intense, ardent, lots of vitality, physical strength, angry, violent, high blood pressure

Yellow: pessimistic, cranky, irritable, may drink too much carrot juice (changes meaning)

Blue: poor circulation, weak heart, may be seen at base of ball of thumb during a woman’s menses, potentially serious health problem if seen at base of fingernails

This entry was posted in character, feeling, fingernails, fingers, Hand Analysis, Hand Reading, health, intuition, Metaphysics, Mythology, Palmistry, Philosophy, practicality, Psychology, Self-help, spirituality, thinking, will power and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by markseltman. Bookmark the permalink.

About markseltman

Over the past thirty-five years, I've read tens of thousands of hands of people of every age, gender, race, color, size, shape, career, and socio-economic diversity. I've examined the hands of celebrities, billionaires, corporate executives, and the people who work for them. I've been in charge of the psychics at special events like the massive Bloomberg Company picnic on Randall’s Island and have worked at the Mayor’s country home and at Gracie Mansion. I've been a hand reader at PR events and family gatherings for the King of PR, Howard Rubenstein. I was the hand reader at Harvey Weinstein’s spectacular wedding. I've also read the hands of Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Star Jones, Kevin Kline, Kyra Sedgwick, Barbara Corcoran, Dave Brubeck, and Maurice Sendak, along with numerous other celebrities and their families. I've also examined hundreds of criminally insane people’s hands at a forensic psychiatric hospital in New York City over a two-year period. I've appeared on ABC The View, CBS Martha Stewart Living, CBS Evening News, FOX Good Day NY, Lifetime TV, Queens, NPR and WNYC. I've been featured in the NY Times, NY Newsday, The Daily News, The Village Voice, New York Magazine, INSTYLE Magazine, Family Circle, Modern Bride, Manhattan User’s Guide, and other periodicals. Because of my credentials in design and technology as well as my extensive experience with public appearances on television, radio, and in the print media, I'm uniquely qualified to promote palmistry. I offer five-minute reflections at special events, counsel countless couples, raise funds for diverse causes such as AIDS, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Schizophrenia, Arts Education, and the Environment. I taught Metaphysics 101 at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC for five years and have also spoken, offered workshops, and taught classes at the New York Open Center, Learning Annex, Source of Life Center, Hunter College, Pace University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Marymount Manhattan College, Theosophical Society, East West Bookstore, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and The National Design Museum in NYC. I also have a private practice with over 1,000 clients.


  1. Hello Mark, thank you for the information you share. I am wondering if I may send you pictures of my hands, as they are very unusual. The middle fingers are arthritic and painful, thinner at middle, and totally bending towards the index finger. My dominant hand has a combined head and heart line straight across the hand. Also my hands are filled with lines and grills crisscrossing everywhere. Of note, I did not have the top bending of the middle fingers until chemotherapy in FY 2000 for treatment of nonhodgkins lymphoma. Also I worked as a fee analyst for 17 years which required continual writing. However I did not write with the right hand and the two fingers are identically bent except that the left hand middle part is curved in which I attribute to holding a pencil all those years. Thank you for reading, I would love to hear from you if you would care to comment and to view a copy of my hands. Thank you!

    • Hi Sandra, Send Hi-res photos of both full hands perpendicular to the camera lens to my email address markseltman1@ I will comment privately. It’s interesting that you were an analyst because knotty and crooked fingers are often attributed to someone who is highly analytical. The simian line and middle finger bending toward your index finger could indicate being highly focused, determined, and ambitious. we’ll see…

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