beau geste

\ bō-ˈzhest How to pronounce beau geste (audio) \
plural beaux gestes or beau gestes\ bō-​ˈzhest How to pronounce beau geste (audio) \

Definition of beau geste

1 : a graceful or magnanimous gesture
2 : an ingratiating conciliatory gesture

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.

First Known Use of beau geste

1900, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for beau geste

French, literally, beautiful gesture

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about beau geste

Time Traveler for beau geste

Time Traveler

The first known use of beau geste was in 1900

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about beau geste

Statistics for beau geste

Cite this Entry

“Beau geste.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Comments on beau geste

What made you want to look up beau geste? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!