beau geste


plural beaux gestes or beau gestes bō-ˈzhest How to pronounce beau geste (audio)
: a graceful or magnanimous gesture
: an ingratiating conciliatory gesture

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The History of Beau Geste

Beau geste is a phrase borrowed from French; the literal translation is "beautiful gesture." Beau Geste is also the title of a 1924 novel by Percival Christopher Wren, featuring three English brothers who join the French Foreign Legion to repair their family honor. The novel spawned several film versions, including one starring Gary Cooper. Wren didn't invent the phrase "beau geste," which began to appear around the beginning of the 20th century, but the publicity surrounding the novel and subsequent films likely contributed to the expression's popularity.

Word History


French, literally, beautiful gesture

First Known Use

1900, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of beau geste was in 1900


Dictionary Entries Near beau geste

Cite this Entry

“Beau geste.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

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