Baring Her Throat

Body part. 1. A visible indentation at the front of the neck, below the Adam's apple (or laryngeal prominence) and above the collar bones. 2. A fleshy hollow area of skin in the neck through which the windpipe's tracheal cartilages may show.

Usage: The neck dimple is a frail part of our anatomy, revealed by upright posture and hairless skin. An expressive body part, its fragility is either left uncovered for display, or concealed by neckwear. In courtship, e.g., the neck dimple is revealed to suggest harmlessness and vulnerability, as if to say, "You may approach" (see LOVE SIGNAL). In business, government, and military affairs, the neck dimple is masked by button-up collars, scarves, and knotted ties which suggest formality, strength, and reserve, as if to say, "Step back."

Media. "The idea that body language taps into non-conscious thought is not a new one. It has spawned generations of self-help books on how to succeed in interviews, or read the signs that your boss fancies you. Consider the indentation at the base of the neck, says David Givens, director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington. Revealing it is a universal sign of submission and approachability in all mammals and a courtship cue in humans. So a man who loosens his tie in the presence of a potential mate may unwittingly be expressing his attraction" (New Scientist, [Spinney 2000]).

E-Commentary: "I have enjoyed your website immensely and would like to mention that the 'neck dimple' is commonly known (surgically) as the suprasternal notch. Thank you for placing your compilation online." S., USA (7/9/00 5:53:48 PM Pacific Daylight Time)

RESEARCH REPORT: Throat-baring, a visible sign of submission, has been studied in mammals (e.g., dogs and wolves) and in reptiles (e.g., crocodilians). The prominence of our neck dimple as we face each other and speak has led to diverse cultural fashions for exhibiting, adorning, or covering the throat.


Copyright 1998 - 2016 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)
Detail of photo of a noteworthy female neck dimple (picture credit: unknown)