We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Air Kiss?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Mwah! You’ve just received an air kiss, sometimes referred to by the mwah spelling. In fact, mwah is now an official word for the air kiss in dictionaries, and is identified as having an onomatopoeic function, since it sounds like a loud kiss. First the lips compress to make an “mm,” and then open with an exhalation of a breath to produce the “wah” sound. A phrase similar is "kiss kiss," which may also express an air kiss, but isn’t quite as satisfying in sound.

The air kiss or mwah is a gesture of greeting or farewell, and it’s often associated with high profile celebrities, models or glamour queens. It may have originated specifically with models due to the fact that models frequently travel to places like France where a kiss on each cheek is standard greeting. However, if you’re kissing a model, particularly before a photo shoot or fashion show, the last thing you would want to do is mess up her makeup. Moreover, models or fashionably made up women might smear their lipstick on others, which can create the need to carry handkerchiefs.

The air kiss style clearly gravitated to the US, where kissing tends not to be the standard form of greeting among acquaintances. It may also include briefly touching each cheek as the kiss sound is made. Alternately the cheek-to-cheek double kiss may not include an actual kissing sound, though the lips may remain pursed as if you are about to kiss someone.

You’ll see examples of the air kiss on numerous television shows, with or without the accompanying “mwah” sound. Some believe that shows like Sex and The City popularized the greeting. Certainly other programs like America’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of Orange County and even red carpet shows like those preceding the Academy Awards have also made the air kiss quite recognizable.

Some wonder if an air kiss can truly be a sincere form of greeting, especially since the double cheek kiss was not particularly American in form. There’s a wonderful scene dating back several decades in the film Young Frankenstein, where Dr. Frankenstein is only able to express his affection for his fiancée when they are parting by rubbing elbows with her, since he would otherwise damage her hair, makeup or fingernails.

Though there may occasionally be some insincerity in the gesture, or a desire to preserve appearances, it can connote real affection between people and is certainly not always fake. Whether not wishing to damage personal appearance is shallow has to be weighed by each person. Yet again, reference to television shows like Sex and the City though they may have placed much emphasis on appearance, also example that these gestures are not necessarily empty and that true affection and regard can exist behind them.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon31856 — On May 12, 2009

don't you mean inhalation? trying kissing the air you are inhaling, not exhaling.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
Read more
WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.