Pinch is used to refer to the thumb and index finger either coming together or moving apart.

Therefore, just to refer to it as pinch isn't exactly accurate because I need to refer to the exact version of the pinch (either the coming together of the finger and thumb or the moving apart).

Are there specific terms to use for these two actions?


3 Answers 3


We had the same question at work a couple of months ago. I believe the confusion occurs because of the "zoom in/out" and "pinch in/out".

For our project, We defined as: pinch in --> when we spread the fingers (so it means zoom in) pinch out --> when we bring the fingers together (so it means zoom out)

I would also suggest Luke Wreblowski as a strong reference. He refers to the gestures as pinch when the fingers come together and spread when they go away. (http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1071 )

  • 2
    Pinch in and pinch out is definitely confusing. I prefer you other suggestion of pinch and spread.
    – Franchesca
    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:08
  • I'm still unsure. for your project - I think the opposite would've made more sense for in/out. 'pinch in' - makes more sense to use for bringing the fingers together, as you are bringing them in - together. 'pinch out' - when you're spreading them out, away from each other.
    – Dave Haigh
    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:16
  • But yes, the other suggestion of spread for going apart is nice
    – Dave Haigh
    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:17
  • It was a week long discussion with a team of 10 people :) I think all work as long as everyone agrees on them. The reason we used those was: "I am using my pinch to go in the system" "I am pinching to go out of the system". It is kind of "come in" :) "come out" you move in the room, you are now in the room. You pinch in the system, you are now in the system. But well.. it does not solve the confusion, just creates an agreement. It is what we needed...
    – Esin
    Jun 12, 2014 at 16:28

Android have the following terms for each gesture:

enter image description here

Source: https://material.io/design/interaction/gestures.html#types-of-gestures

I believe these are good terms as pinch can still be used as the overall term for the type of gesture, but then if you want specifics for which direction then open or close are good terms because they specifically refer to the opening or closing of fingers on one another.

Sounds basic but it's tricky to nail down specific terms for gestures. It's important to get them right, especially when you won't be having a diagram to accompany it. :)


Smashing Magazine has an animated GIF with touch gestures, and they refer to the opposite of "pinch" as spread:

Touch gestures

Note: there is an English.SE question about this topic: Does 'pinch' have an opposite?

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