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 Lighting cigarettes and other treasured niceties will become gestures of mutual affection. Gloria Steinem, Time, "50 Years Ago, Gloria Steinem Wrote an Essay For TIME About Her Hopes For Women’s Futures. Here’s What She'd Add Today," 5 Mar. 2020 Falkner likes to court international publicity through grand marketing gestures. Sam Haddad, 1843, "A mega resort on the horizon, a glacier on the brink," 26 Feb. 2020 Looks like last year’s grand gesture became a tradition, or maybe Chip actually wanted to try red spray paint this year. Kelly Corbett, House Beautiful, "Chip Gaines Gives One of the Magnolia Market Silos a Romantic Makeover for Valentine's Day," 14 Feb. 2020 Well-socialized wolves from a research institute in Indiana easily followed human pointing gestures, while some shelter dogs who’d had little contact with people did not. Popular Science, "Did humans truly domesticate dogs? Canine history is more of a mystery than you think.," 10 Feb. 2020 Something about sharing a bar of chocolate feels like the sincerest gesture of a child. Maggie Lange, Bon Appétit, "Keep These Snacks on Hand to Guarantee the Party's Always at YOUR House," 18 Dec. 2019 Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking his staff to Asiatown for lunch Thursday, a symbolic gesture aimed at alleviating undue fears about COVID-19. Dylan Mcguinness, Houston Chronicle, "Mayor Turner heading to Asiatown for lunch in bid to calm coronavirus fears," 5 Mar. 2020 When Robinson approached the register, Walters made a gesture with his head toward Pope. Carol Robinson |, al, "2nd suspect in 2014 Selma killing over $43 pleads guilty," 11 Feb. 2020 That same year, a similar gesture was extended to future Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, who joined the army after completing her year-long reign as Miss Israel 2004, serving as a combat trainer, while also continuing her modeling career. David Caspi, Billboard, "Why Teen Pop Star Noa Kirel Chose to Leave the Limelight to Serve in Israeli Military," 11 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb O’Brien says, gesturing to the six benches in the gallery, which fit 30 people comfortably. Tovin Lapan, Fortune, "A record backlog, antiquated technology, and new quotas: Inside San Francisco’s chaotic immigration court," 13 Mar. 2020 Swayze, a ghost for much of the movie, appears on the canvas as well, gesturing imploringly toward Moore. Anakwa Dwamena, The New York Review of Books, "Ghana’s Handmade Movie Poster Boom," 18 Jan. 2020 At the reception, her new mother-in-law was seen by multiple guests gesturing with her two middle fingers while the father of the bride was giving his toast. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Mother-in-law won’t apologize for rude hand gesture at wedding reception," 28 Dec. 2019 The Biggest Loser study only gestured at the underlying scientific problem, though. Daniel Engber, Scientific American, "Unexpected Clues Emerge About Why Diets Fail," 13 Jan. 2020 His idea was to roll twenty fat joints and hand them around in the morning as a good-will gesture, to open up the hearts of his customers. David Means, The New Yorker, "Are You Experienced?," 14 Oct. 2019 Iranian officials told Reuters on Sunday that Tehran would insist on being allowed to sell at least 700,000 barrels of oil a day as a good-will gesture to discuss saving the nuclear agreement. New York Times, "Iranian Official Makes Surprise Appearance on Sidelines of G7 Summit," 25 Aug. 2019 Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said Monday, gesturing to a deputy. USA TODAY, "Atari hotel, Wienermobile warning, goat mayor’s K-9 rival: News from around our 50 states," 29 Jan. 2020 Simply gesturing in the direction of First Amendment rights at the end isn’t enough to fix an unconstitutional policy. Tyler Coward, National Review, "Trump’s Anti-Semitism Executive Order Undermines Campus Free Speech," 16 Dec. 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

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gesture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 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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