ges·​ture | \ ˈjes-chər How to pronounce gesture (audio) , ˈjesh- \

Definition of gesture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a movement usually of the body or limbs that expresses or emphasizes an idea, sentiment, or attitude raised his hand overhead in a gesture of triumph
2 : the use of motions of the limbs or body as a means of expression
3 : something said or done by way of formality or courtesy, as a symbol or token, or for its effect on the attitudes of others … a political gesture to draw popular support …— V. L. Parrington
4 archaic : carriage, bearing


gestured; gesturing

Definition of gesture (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make a gesture (see gesture entry 1 sense 1)

transitive verb

: to express or direct by a gesture (see gesture entry 1 sense 1)

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Synonyms for gesture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of gesture in a Sentence

Noun Specific gestures can indicate particular moods. His arm was raised in a gesture of defiance. Verb She gestured towards the fireplace. He gestured at his audience. The room was filled with angry people shouting and gesturing. He gestured to his partner to leave.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The president seemed to see discarding his mask as a gesture of triumph over the virus. The Economist, "Daily chart Pandemic fatigue may be setting in across much of the world," 6 Oct. 2020 Most restaurants serve them on the house, as a gesture of hospitality. Eric Kim, New York Times, "A Spread Worthy of Royalty," 28 Sep. 2020 Perhaps as a gesture of gratitude for giving them a lifeline, the Fighting Irish tattooed the ACC logo on both sides of the field. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football, MSU feel the sting as Notre Dame kicks off season — 175 miles away," 12 Sep. 2020 Some of the children are shown in black face masks, which serves as a gesture toward the concurrent pandemics of COVID-19 and police brutality against people of color. Dallas News, "Fall Arts Preview: Find out what to enjoy from our critics and contributors and how to see them safely," 4 Sep. 2020 There’s just so much to learn from this instructor, like gesture controls, graphics and animations, and even enabling iCloud for your apps. Benjamin Levin, CNN Underscored, "Build your programming skills with these e-courses, from Python to SwiftUI," 23 Dec. 2020 The gesture was a symbolic gift for Eisenhower’s eventual support for Alaska statehood, which took effect on January 3, 1959. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "In the midst of the Cold War, Alaska’s effort to spread Christmas cheer involved sending a small herd of reindeer to D.C.," 21 Dec. 2020 The Queen's gesture this week is reminiscent of the longstanding tradition of royal brides placing their wedding bouquets on the grave as a sign of respect for the military, a custom which started by the Queen Mother in 1923. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Queen Elizabeth Marks the 100th Anniversary of the Burial of the Unknown Warrior Ahead of Remembrance Sunday," 7 Nov. 2020 Naming the hotel for Pittman, while a nice gesture, is hardly enough. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "How the historic center of Black life in Dallas became a luxury hotel," 5 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As an initial good-will gesture last week, Cohen restored the pre-pandemic salaries of all Mets employees, reversing the 5 to 30 percent pay cuts implemented in March. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "As Owner of the Mets, Steven Cohen Is ‘Doing It for the Fans’," 10 Nov. 2020 The poll worker appears to gesture in an animated way, and then crumple up a small piece of paper. Star Tribune, "Georgia poll worker in hiding after false claims online," 6 Nov. 2020 Sometimes gesture navigation completely stops working. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Surface Duo review—Orphaned Windows hardware makes a poor Android device," 16 Oct. 2020 The blandness is countered, but only so much, by some alluring ground-level features, like the stainless steel columns that gesture to the arcade of the Civic Opera Building. Blair Kamin,, "Column: City’s tallest office building in 30 years opens along Chicago River, mixing drama and banality," 9 Oct. 2020 The album’s idiosyncrasies — dogs barking (five canine collaborators are credited), body parts and pieces of furniture retooled as percussion instruments, mistakes caught on tape and left there — gesture to its homespun origins. New York Times, "7 Things to Do This Weekend," 8 Oct. 2020 The messages end up mealymouthed—these companies are willing to gesture at the maintenance of a minimally functional democracy, but are not willing to say it with their chests. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "Even Fast-Casual Restaurants Are Telling Me to Vote," 29 Sep. 2020 Chirpy songs on the soundtrack set an upbeat mood, but the score by Alex Belcher often pulses at a lower frequency — one that the narrative can only gesture toward, falling within familiar lines in ways that are far too tidy. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Made in Italy': Film Review," 7 Aug. 2020 While sharing this information, gesture with your own mask the correct way to cover both the nose and mouth. Hannah Herrera Greenspan,, "Social Graces: Someone you know has recovered from coronavirus and wants to hang out. Here’s how to handle.," 5 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gesture.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gesture


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4


1542, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for gesture

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin gestura mode of action, from Latin gestus, past participle of gerere

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Time Traveler for gesture

Time Traveler

The first known use of gesture was in the 15th century

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Statistics for gesture

Last Updated

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gesture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for gesture


How to pronounce gesture (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gesture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a movement of your body (especially of your hands and arms) that shows or emphasizes an idea or a feeling
: something said or done to show a particular feeling or attitude



English Language Learners Definition of gesture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a gesture : to move your hands, arms, etc., to express an idea or feeling


ges·​ture | \ ˈjes-chər How to pronounce gesture (audio) \

Kids Definition of gesture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a movement of the body (as the hands and arms) that expresses an idea or a feeling … Tutok rose and made a gesture of farewell.— Scott O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins
2 : something said or done that shows a particular feeling He invited her in a gesture of friendship.


gestured; gesturing

Kids Definition of gesture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make or direct with a gesture I gestured for her to come.

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Comments on gesture

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