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 teens had thrown coins and made lewd and homophobic gestures at the women, police said. Fox News, "UK teens plead guilty in 'homophobic incident' against women who refused to kiss on London bus," 29 Nov. 2019 Despite that gesture, Nakasone was staunchly committed to Japan’s alliance with the U.S., and his warm friendship with Reagan was known as ‘‘Ron-Yasu’’ diplomacy., "He boosted defense spending, tried to revise Japan’s U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution and drew criticism for his unabashed appeals to patriotism.," 29 Nov. 2019 Just send me the same old stuff the guys get, a little gesture of equality that warrants raising a glass. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, "A Female Reporter’s Holiday Plea: Send Me the Same Stuff the Guys Get," 23 Nov. 2019 There can be no trash talk or celebratory gestures at this stage of the tradition. Bruce Jenkins,, "Go ahead, Cal, call it The Drive," 23 Nov. 2019 His right hand reaches over his right knee toward the ground—a gesture said to capture the precise moment of his spiritual awakening and his designation of the earth as witness to his enlightenment. Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian, "The Hidden City of Myanmar," 21 Nov. 2019 There is no comparison between calming a real baby and shaking a PlayStation controller, but there is a value in recognizing that relationships and connections aren’t usually born from grand gestures or heroic interventions. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "The Blockbuster Video Game That Wants to “Make America Whole Again”," 20 Nov. 2019 Using the same finger, start at the inner corner of your eyelid and trace dots along to the outer corner of the lid, repeating the same previous dabbing gesture. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "La Prairie Skin Caviar Serum Gave Me a Non-Invasive Eye and Brow Lift in Seconds," 18 Nov. 2019 Those simple gestures aren’t just present in the neural activity. Quanta Magazine, "‘Noise’ in the Brain Encodes Surprisingly Important Signals," 7 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 The midfielder reacted to boos from home fans during the draw with Palace, gesturing towards the crowd in an attempt to provoke them., "Unai Emery Fighting to Convince 'Confused' Arsenal Squad That He Is Right for the Job," 29 Oct. 2019 Lockhart gestured to more than a dozen red brick structures arranged across wide green lawns. al, "Fear and disbelief as neighborhood grapples with Kamille McKinney abduction," 17 Oct. 2019 Another sweet clip shows True, who was wearing a sweet blue dress, gesturing towards her cousin North. Robyn Merrett,, "North West Wears a Nose Ring as She Rocks an Edgy Look for Great Grandma MJ's Birthday Party," 23 July 2019 Currently in beta, Android 10 will bring changes to gesture navigation and other tweaks, including the popular dark mode, as well as new branding. Alyssa Newcomb, Fortune, "Q is for Quitter: Google Ditches Its Android Dessert Names," 22 Aug. 2019 Cleveland Indians’ Franmil Reyes gestures to the dugout after hitting a double in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit last month. Jeff Sanders, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres fan favorite Franmil Reyes making himself a new home in Cleveland," 13 Sep. 2019 On Tuesday, Accius gestured to the watermark on the walls of his home that reached the ceiling. Daniella Silva, NBC News, "In Abaco Islands, the letter D marks the site of a grim recovery effort," 10 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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Gesture.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

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


a period of high artistic development

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