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Spit Shake

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"A spit swear means you never break your word. It's a bond."
Lucas, Stranger Things

Two people who have just come to some sort of agreement both spit in their palm and then shake hands with the wet hand.

Basically, this is the "lite" version of a Blood Oath. However, it still conveys utter seriousness that is many steps above a Pinky Swear. Plus, it avoids the horrors of showing an actual Blood Oath. And finally, it happens in real life, so it's hardly unrealistic. It's often used by children, country "bumpkins" or members of certain cultures, like Roma and Irish Travellers.

A popular comedy trope is to have the resident Neat Freak or germophobe act disgusted or shocked at having to do this in order to seal a deal.

Not to be confused with Spit Take or Spit Shine.


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    Fan Works 
  • Applejack tries to seal a deal with Phoenix like this in Turnabout Storm. He passes.
    Phoenix: I'm not touching that hoof...
    Applejack: Why not?
    Phoenix: Because there’s spit all over it...
    Applejack: *sigh* You are just as prissy as Rarity!

    Film — Animation 
  • Rita and Roddy on Flushed Away. City Mouse Roddy has to be reminded to spit in his own hand.
  • In Open Season Elliot agrees to lead Boog back to timberline by using this trope, much to Boog's disgust
  • Was used in Return To Never Land, when Peter Pan and the Lost Boys used this as their group handshake. Jane at first shows her disgust at it, but ends up participating in it herself later in the movie.
  • In Up Mr. Fredricksen does this with his future wife when they met as kids.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happens in Free Willy 2 between Jessie and a female friend, then later, an adult who helps him out.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. The Collector does this when making a deal in Bartertown.
  • In Mud, a fugitive named Mud gives a spit handshake to Arkansas boy, Neckbone, who agreed to help him fix a boat in exchange for his pistol.
  • David is originally repulsed by the idea of a spit handshake at the beginning of Newsies, but he comes around by the end.
  • Occurs several times in The Quiet Man between characters doing business.
  • In Shanghai Noon, Roy tries doing this to make friends with Wang, but Wang, unused to Western customs, spits on Roy's palm instead of his own. The scene is reversed towards the end of the film.
  • A variation happens in the film of The Spiderwick Chronicles when Hogsqueal offers to shake with a booger on his finger. When Jared acts repulsed, Hogsqueal eats the booger before shaking. "What? It's good!"

  • Discworld:
    • Happens in The Truth. One of the homeless tries to Spit Shake with the dwarf running the printing press. Deword stops him with "Do you have any disfiguring diseases? Do you want some?"
    • In Making Money, Moist does this when arranging a bank loan for Harry King.
      Harry: I didn't think bankers did that!
      Moist: They don't often shake hands with Harry King, then.
  • Played with in Dune when Stilgar the Fremen spits on the table to seal his alliance with House Atreides. Water being so rare on Arrakis, this is a sign of respect, though it's not taken this way at first. Fortunately Duncan Idaho is there to explain matters, and spits on the table in return.
  • The Elenium trilogy:
    • When the Loveable Rogue Platime — head of the local Thieves' Guild — is recruited to join Queen Ehlana's council as an adviser. Platime, being a commoner to the last hair, seals the deal with a spit-shake, and Queen Ehlana follows suit, if only because she was in the middle of tricking him into accepting a really clever 'bargain', and didn't want to get distracted. She only admits to being grossed out by it afterwards, when she demands a washing-basin IMMEDIATELY so she can wash her hands.
    • Quite a bit later, she uses a spit-shake to seal a deal with the newly-named Archprelate - he needs a ring passed down through the royal family of Elenia for generations, in order to launch a desperate mission to stop the evil Zemochs - and Ehlana wants to marry her beloved (but quite a bit older) knight, Sparhawk. The Archprelate agrees to the bargain, and being a clever old fellow who's been around the block a few times, he recognizes the spit-shake gesture and follows through. Sparhawk is somewhat distraught by seeing his life get traded away like that.
    • Then in Domes of Fire, Sparhawk and Engessa begin negotiations over the marriage of Kring and Mirtai (Sparhawk serving as Kring's designee, Engessa as Mirtai's adoptive father). Somehow, Tynian and Ehlana get involved as well (on Kring and Mirtai's side, respectively) and go into lengthy theatrics before finally settling on terms with a spit shake. As the end result was exactly what Sparhawk and Engessa had quietly agreed upon earlier, they do the same to make it official.
  • The Piper's Children do this quite a bit in The Keys to the Kingdom, Suzy especially. Arthur was appropriately squicked out the first time he had to do it.
  • Happens in Pyrates, twice. First when the three main friends agree to work together to search for the treasure, then again when a new kid joins.
  • Also referenced in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The teacher Miss Caroline asks Scout to hold out her hand (intending to hit her with a ruler as punishment), and Scout wonders to herself "what bargain [they] had made" as she thought "she was going to spit in it, which was the only reason anybody in Maycomb held out his hand: it was a time-honored method of sealing oral contracts". Is referenced again in the following chapter during a scene with her father, Atticus.
  • One happens between Tuon and Mat in The Wheel of Time. Despite Tuon being royalty, she really doesn't mind; she's used to strange traditions from odd corners of her empire.
  • In one young adult novel, the main character, an honor student who's being asked to tutor a known troublemaker, refuses her mentee's request to do this to establish their relationship. When her mentee suggests that they seal the deal with blood instead, the tutor reluctantly agrees to the spit shake, and washes her hand after doing so.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Castle, Castle, Ryan, and Espisito make a pact that they "seal" by all putting their hands together. It's not exactly a shake, but since there are three of them, it really couldn't be. Castle and Espisito simply put their hands in, but Ryan spits on his first. Espisito, who he touched most directly, winces and rolls his eyes, and Castle gives him a sympathetic look.
  • A habit of Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard. It's apparently the only oath that Boss Hogg will never break.
  • In the pilot episode of Misfits, Nathan attempts to initiate a pact with Curtis to each get one of the two girls doing community service with via one of these (he discounts the shy third boy, Simon, which is ironic in retrospect). Curtis declines, but the four of them do sort of pair off the way Nathan intended, at least at first.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, an uptight scientist flinches when a farmer from a nearby colony offers one of these (they were agreeing to terms on a merge of their colonies for mutual benefit).
  • In Stranger Things, Lucas explains a spit swear to Eleven is an unbreakable promise. To demonstrate, he does one with Dustin. Dustin looks pretty grossed out afterwards.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia supplement Acute Paranoia, adventure "Me and My Shadow Mark IV". After the PCs finish guarding Markie, the Computer orders them to spit on their palms and shake hands with the R&D representative as part of the transfer procedure.

  • In Archipelago that's how Credenza seals the deal when Raven first joins the group. Naturally, he's disgusted.
  • In Pacificators, the pirate Ferdinand and the renegade Shiva sealed a deal this way. Shiva's teammates Enlil and Aphrodite certainly didn't enjoy the sentiment.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Sam tries this with Quentyn, an anthropomorphic raccoon, but he refuses to do something so unsanitary without need.

    Web Original 
  • Petow: From 5.2:
    Kirby spit in his hand and held it out. I answered with my own spit and shook; it wasn’t the first time I’d shook that way.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Kankers seal a deal with Jimmy like this, much to his disgust.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes' second season had Jimmy frequently doing this with his "Two-Shoes promises" - something he never did at all in Season 1.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Applejack and Rainbow Dash do this throughout "Fall Weather Friends". The "shake" part is a little different as well, since they're ponies, and as such, don't have hands. What they do is push their hooves together in what the fandom calls a "brohoof" (so named because it greatly resembles the "brofist").
    • Applejack attempts one with Rarity in "Look Before You Sleep", but Rarity is disgusted by it and doesn't go through with it.
    • In season 5 episode "The Hooffields and McColts" the leaders of the Hooffields and McColts do this to signify the end of a long running feud.
  • On The Simpsons, Bart and Milhouse do it to be "spit brothers" when the Simpsons have to move away.
  • One particular villager-of-the-week in Wakfu has a habit of spitting at every chance he gets, so it's only natural that he'd spit in his hand before shaking. Amalia is understandably a little grossed out by this, but by the end of the episode, she's the one spitting in her hand and offering it to him.