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 Air gestures—which require you to wave your hand above the phone screen to control it—have been tried on phones before, usually with poor results. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google’s next flagship smartphone launches October 15," 16 Sep. 2019 Their inclusion is still seen by many as a token gesture, even when their performances leave little doubt of their skill. The Economist, "Chester Williams stood against South African rugby’s racism," 16 Sep. 2019 There are no grand, monumental gestures in the Ford story. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "What Christine Blasey Ford Said," 10 Sep. 2019 That’s a great gesture, backing up the star quarterback’s willingness to put in extra work to get Brown up to speed with the Patriots’ system. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Will Antonio Brown conform to the Patriot Way?," 9 Sep. 2019 An admirable gesture, but the National Hurricane Center was predicting that the storm would parallel the southeastern coast, remaining over the Atlantic Ocean — far from Alabama. Eugene Robinson, The Mercury News, "Robinson: Trump’s bogus map embodies the man," 6 Sep. 2019 In the first shot, the couple are all smiles, and in the second photo, Foster pumps his fist while his wife throws up the rock-and-roll hand gesture. Ashley Boucher,, "Chelsea Tyler and Jon Foster Announce They're Expecting Their First Child: 'Coming Feb 2020!'," 16 Sep. 2019 An £80,000 fine and a one-match ban was handed to the Arsenal legend, a pretty harsh punishment given the light-hearted nature of the gesture., "8 of the Most Controversial Celebrations in Football History," 12 Sep. 2019 Despite the goodwill gestures, the two sides remain far apart on fundamental issues, and officials continue to trade barbs. Fortune, "The U.S. and China Are Easing Back on Trade War Tariffs as Talks Near," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 In this handout photo provided by the House of Commons, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during his first Prime Minister’s Questions, in the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Washington Post, "British PM ruffles feathers with ‘chlorinated chicken’ taunt," 5 Sep. 2019 In this handout photo provided by the House of Commons, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during his first Prime Minister's Questions, in the House of Commons in London, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Kevin Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News, "British House of Commons passes bill seeking to avert no-deal Brexit, another blow to Boris Johnson," 4 Sep. 2019 Andrade says, gesturing to a small mortar and pestle filled with the red peppers. Ava Garcia, azcentral, "Everyone has a side hustle. These chefs are using theirs to change dining in Phoenix," 14 Aug. 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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Statistics for gesture

Last Updated

4 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for gesture

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

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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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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