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)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for gesture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Her hope is that now, people will take the kindness behind that gesture and extend it to others. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, "‘Yawhoo!’: The 83-year-old grandmother hit with a lease violation for taking too many cookies won’t have to move," 23 Oct. 2019 Though the expansion involved razing its former neighbor—a handsome building by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, home to the American Folk Art Museum—this is an architecture of subtle intervention, not grand gesture. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "The New MoMA Is More of a Good Thing," 21 Oct. 2019 This would be a gesture against reserving privacy as a luxury good. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Privacy bill would give FTC actual authority, land lying executives in jail," 17 Oct. 2019 Though the reunion selfie is a sweet gesture and Aniston has toyed with the idea of performing in a series reboot, the chances of that happening are close to zero, according to the show's creators. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, "Jennifer Aniston's First-Ever Instagram Post Is an Epic Friends Reunion," 15 Oct. 2019 This would seem to be a gesture of Darwinian dominance—until, moments later, Succession’s camera finds Roman, tissue in hand, trying to wipe away the fluid, the glass emitting a series of high-pitched squeaks. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Why Succession Works So Well as Horror," 13 Oct. 2019 However, China failed to recognise or respect that gesture of goodwill from the people of Hong Kong. The Economist, "On Hong Kong, China should retreat to advance," 22 Aug. 2019 Knoerzer throws off consistency with that one gesture. Cate Mcquaid,, "At Boston’s M Fine Arts Galerie, Mark Knoerzer paintings whirl with pattern and color," 14 Aug. 2019 That grand romantic gesture So much happens in between the five years since the Veronica Mars movie, but at least one thing never changes: Logan and Veronica are still together when season 4 begins. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "All the best LoVe scenes in Veronica Mars, including Hulu's revival season," 20 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Rajabi gestured plaintively up at the portrait of his son above his head. Rachel Poser, Harper's magazine, "Common Ground," 19 Aug. 2019 The young athlete, who plays goalkeeper on his his local team, was on vacation with his family at the Jumby Bay Island Resort in Antigua earlier this month when Argentinian soccer champ Lionel Messi gestured to the pre-teen to kick the ball around. Dave Quinn,, "Boy Playing Soccer on Vacation Gets Surprise When Pro Lionel Messi Asks to Join," 25 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gesture

Statistics for gesture

Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for gesture

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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