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 International Olympic Committee's Athletes' Commission, which asked athletes at this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo to refrain from political gestures like taking a knee. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for January 10: Iran, Brexit, infrastructure, China, Taiwan," 10 Jan. 2020 No taking a knee, no political hand gestures and no disrespect during medal ceremonies. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "International Olympic Committee bans political protests by athletes at 2020 games," 9 Jan. 2020 The 47-year-old Paltrow is a celebrity in the classic mold—her every gesture radiates movie star. Harper's BAZAAR, "Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Real About Past Relationships, Her Place in the #MeToo Movement, and Why She Quit Acting for Good," 7 Jan. 2020 When asked outside the courtroom how his back felt, Weinstein responded with a thin smile and a so-so gesture with his hand. Author: Andrew Dalton, Tom Hays, Michael R. Sisak, Anchorage Daily News, "Harvey Weinstein indicted on new sex crimes charges in California on day his New York trial began," 6 Jan. 2020 The family, which speaks no English, had no idea a friend’s kind gesture could impact their Medicaid eligibility. Robert Wilonsky, Dallas News, "Robbed of his American dream, a former U.S. Army translator is now a desperate Dallas shooting victim," 2 Jan. 2020 Gary Woodland’s gesture At the Phoenix Open in late January, PGA Tour pro Gary Woodland helped Amy Bockerstette, a community college golfer with Down syndrome, finish one of the most heart-warming pars golf has ever seen. Jim Litke,, "Top feel-good sports stories for 2019," 27 Dec. 2019 Now, cities are racing to ban plastic straws—a tiny gesture that mostly hurts disabled people who need to use straws—but struggling to hold up larger energy-saving policies. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Trump Administration Rolls Back LED Light Bulb Standards," 27 Dec. 2019 Georgia fans decked out Sanford Stadium in pink in Wendy's memory, a gesture that nearly brought her husband to tears. Arkansas Online, "TOP 10 ARKANSAS SPORTS STORIES OF 2019: UA’s firing of high-profile coaches dominated news cycle," 26 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And Trudeau goes on from there, hands gesturing, mouth grinning. Paula Newton, CNN, "Trudeau's hot mic comments cause consternation in Canada," 5 Dec. 2019 Manual Override, as Khan put it, is gesturing to the idea that the off switch may no longer be an option. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Pioneering Feminist Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson Gets Timely and Overdue Attention in a New Show," 15 Nov. 2019 Only seconds after Sabourin crashed face-first to the ice, badly bloodying him around mouth and nose, Backes quickly gestured toward the benches for trainers and medical personnel., "The Garden crowd fell to stunned silence, and a smattering of fans could be seen weeping and dobbing eyes, early in the first period Saturday night when Ottawa forward Scott Sabourin crashed to the ice face-first, appearing knocked cold on his feet in a collision with Bruins veteran David Backes.," 2 Nov. 2019 Nwora scored 6 in that 10-point run and was in the zone toward the end of the game, gesturing toward the crowd for more energy every time the Cardinals increased their lead late in the second half. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "No. 1 and not done: Louisville beats No. 5 Michigan in first game at top of polls," 4 Dec. 2019 This amount of data, Lord explained, gesturing at the screen clogged with numbers, was routinely collected on each of Google Android’s approximately two billion users. Brian Barth, The New Yorker, "Big Tech’s Big Defector," 25 Nov. 2019 Sibilia says, gesturing at a tailgating crew that runs six cars deep. Jenny Vrentas,, "The Trouble With Tanking," 1 Oct. 2019 Actress Jane Fonda gestures after being arrested during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change," 19 Oct. 2019 But then, at graduation, after getting an empty diploma case, Crawford gestured toward President Frank Miley with his middle finger instead of shaking his hand, according to the human rights memo. Josh Verges, Twin Cities, "Refused a diploma, football standout takes Cretin-Derham Hall to court," 30 Sep. 2019

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

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gesture.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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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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