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)

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rogers knows the dress has to be good to carry off a story like that–a reality too few designers of any age understand–and Parker looked overjoyed, even if her ever-present fascinator was a gesture too far. Rachel Tashjian, Harper's BAZAAR, 3 May 2022 The symbolism of the gesture was clear as Mr. Modi and some of his ministers traveled to Palli to hail what the government said would be the first of many carbon-neutral villages across India, thanks to the solar plant. New York Times, 24 Apr. 2022 Some political commentators said the announcement was a symbolic gesture to take pressure off party leaders during the crisis and it could be resolved by the time parliament reconvenes next month. NBC News, 18 Apr. 2022 The man at one point walks toward one officer while making a hand gesture, and the officer responds by shoving him to the ground with two hands. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk are both reveling over Musk's grand gesture in the name of public service. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 27 Apr. 2022 So popular was Shipley’s unifying gesture with his pioneering neighbors that members of at least three wagon trains are buried at the bucolic cemetery, including ancestors of the two authors of this article. oregonlive, 25 Apr. 2022 Dating from 1931, it was previously owned by city-electricity provider Oslo Lysverker, serving as company headquarters but also including a pool and bathhouse in the basement for public use (a typically community-minded Scandinavian gesture). James Stewart, Robb Report, 23 Apr. 2022 So this Earth Day, if you are compelled (or even coerced) into some performative gesture, why not contribute to transformative potential? Nyeema C. Harris, Scientific American, 22 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The study’s authors gesture to how this practice could lead to the silencing—and perception of persecution—of entire communities. Gabriel Nicholas, The Atlantic, 28 Apr. 2022 The show seems to gesture broadly toward a connection between Vivian and her subject on numerous levels. Philippa Snow, The New Republic, 9 Feb. 2022 Women, for instance, tend to gesture more with their hands, use more adjectives and make eye contact. The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Feb. 2022 The play seems to gesture to the tension in the room, that Della Rose is hiding her friendship with Jimmy from her husband. Jerald Pierce,, 2 Nov. 2021 The show’s neo-Surrealists and abstractionists are too miscellaneous and hermetic to do more than gesture in a compensatory direction. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2021 This year, the Lyman maze has a 1970s music theme, with a guitar, a musical note, a peace sign, a heart and a hand making the heavy metal horns gesture all part of the design. Christopher Arnott,, 17 Oct. 2021 But the fact that Netflix is funneling this effort through its treasury department, rather than a diversity and inclusion committee or philanthropic arm, does at least gesture toward a sense that the investment might be serious and sustained. Victor Luckerson, Wired, 5 Oct. 2021 Her presence seems at once to gesture in the direction of recurrent arguments about Bond casting — does the character have to be male? New York Times, 29 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near gesture



gesture language

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Statistics for gesture

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gesture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for gesture


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on gesture

Nglish: Translation of gesture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gesture for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gesture


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