\ˈjist \

Definition of gist 

1 : the ground (see ground entry 1 sense 2a) of a legal action

2 : the main point or part : essence the gist of an argument

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The gist of the conversation was that .... The word gist often appears in such contexts to let us know that what follows will be a statement or summary that in some way encapsulates the main point or overarching theme. The gist of a conversation, argument, story, or what-have-you is what we rely on when the actual words and details are only imperfectly recalled, inessential, or too voluminous to recount in their entirety. Gist was borrowed from the Anglo-French legal phrase "[cest] action gist" ("[this] action lies") in the early 18th century, and was originally used in legal contexts as a term referring to the foundation or grounds for a legal action without which that action would not be legally sustainable.

Examples of gist in a Sentence

Thus, Poulterers' Case gave rise to a doctrine which survives to this day: the gist of conspiracy is the agreement, and so the agreement is punishable even if its purpose was not achieved. — Wayne R. LaFave & Austin W. Scott, Jr., Criminal Law, (1972) 1986 … Einstein showed how time intervals depend on the motion of people and clocks doing the measuring. And that's the gist of relativity. — Alan Lightman, Science, January/February 1984 Dorothea told him that she had seen Lydgate, and recited the gist of her conversation with him about the Hospital. — George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872 didn't catch every word between them, but heard enough to get the gist of the conversation
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Recent Examples on the Web

Here's the gist: Instead of painterly bronzing and blending, strobing seeks to define your features by using light—and light alone. Lauren Valenti, Marie Claire, "Meet "Strobing," the Anti-Contouring Beauty Trick You Need to Know Now," 18 May 2015 Meanwhile, inside Loganworld, Dolores declares she's read enough books to get humanity's gist, and exits the brain scanner. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 10: What Is Real?," 25 June 2018 Here is the gist, decoded and translated: For almost three decades now, the 41-year-old Bruins defenseman has meticulously catalogued every single one of his offseason workouts. Alex Prewitt,, "The Legend of Z: Zdeno Chara Remains Obsessed in His Pursuit of Outsized Excellence," 3 Apr. 2018 As far as the numbers game, here's the gist: SPF 15 blocks about 93 to 95 percent of UVB rays, while an SPF 30 filters about 97 percent. Lauren Valenti, Marie Claire, "The Rate of Deadly Skin Cancer Has Doubled Over the Last Three Decades," 9 June 2015 Image Basic income is a term that gets thrown around loosely, but the gist is that the government distributes cash universally. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, "Free Cash to Fight Income Inequality? California City Is First in U.S. to Try," 30 May 2018 Back Caption Options Close Settings Language English Font Size Small Medium Large Position Auto Bottom Top Sample Caption Text 0:00 0:00 0:00 The trailer is all guns and dark jungles and shadows, but the gist is these Predators are different. Jaya Saxena, GQ, "The Predator Trailer Is Dope, But It Will Also Make You Feel Old as Hell," 10 May 2018 Eventually, the gist is able to create something passable. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "AI Algorithms Are Generating Videos Out of Thin Air," 26 Feb. 2018 Bringing Wisconsin to the south has helped The gist of these academies is pretty simple. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee-area baseball academies help foster Wisconsin's baseball boom," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gist.' 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 gist

circa 1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gist

Anglo-French, it lies, from gisir to lie, ultimately from Latin jacēre — more at adjacent

Anglo-French, in the phrase laccion gist the action lies or is based (on), from gisir to lie (of process), from Old French gesir to lie, ultimately from Latin jacere

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Phrases Related to gist

the gist

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for gist

The first known use of gist was circa 1711

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More Definitions for gist


\ˈjist \

Kids Definition of gist

: the main point of a matter He spoke so fast, I only got the gist of the story.


\ˈjist \

Legal Definition of gist 

: the ground or foundation of a legal action without which it would not be sustainable

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Comments on gist

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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