\ ˈjist How to pronounce gist (audio) \

Definition of gist

1 : the ground (see ground entry 1 sense 4a) 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 The gist of those cases was that the defendants offered and sold unregistered securities in violation of state and federal securities laws. Andrea Tinianow, Forbes, "What Will The Ripple Effect Be In The Crypto Space?," 7 May 2021 The gist: Touring kayaks are long—11 to 17 feet—and meant to be used in the ocean or other open water. Jon Turk, Popular Mechanics, "How To Get Started in Kayaking," 27 Apr. 2021 The gist of the Hannity interview was consistent with one of Mr. McCarthy’s recurring themes of late: Democrats are acting in a heavy-handed manner antithetical to Mr. Biden’s conciliatory impulses. New York Times, "Kevin McCarthy, Four Months After Jan. 6, Still on Defensive Over Trump," 25 Apr. 2021 While Bardugo and Heisserer updated the material for the screen, sometimes in plainly noticeable ways, the main gist of the core trilogy carries over. Nick Romano,, "Ben Barnes untangles the complexity of General Kirigan on Shadow and Bone," 22 Apr. 2021 Majumder is a computational epidemiologist (epp-ih-DEE-me-oll-o-gist), someone who uses math to understand how diseases spread in time and space. Washington Post, "Woman play an essential role in coronavirus battle, as they have in many areas of medicine," 9 Mar. 2021 The gist of those leaks is that Spider-Man 3 is part of a Phase 3 trilogy that started with WandaVision and will conclude with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Chris Smith, BGR, "Brand new ‘Spider-Man 3’ leak may confirm the craziest spoiler yet," 26 Mar. 2021 And that's the gist of the show right there: major action moments sprinkled with a lot of Sam and Bucky banter. Nick Romano,, "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," 9 Mar. 2021 Still, the message of perfection that their initial tables and tweets spawned—the gist, for many readers, of all those 100s and zeros—has since been picked up far and wide, and misinterpreted along the way. Hilda Bastian, The Atlantic, "The Differences Between the Vaccines Matter," 7 Mar. 2021

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

1632, 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

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Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for gist


\ ˈjist How to pronounce gist (audio) \

Kids Definition of gist

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


\ ˈjist How to pronounce gist (audio) \

Legal Definition of gist

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

History and Etymology for gist

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

More from Merriam-Webster on gist

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gist

Nglish: Translation of gist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gist for Arabic Speakers

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