1

jest

noun \ ˈjest \

Definition of jest

1 : a joking or mocking remark
  • a clever jest
2 a : prank
b : a ludicrous circumstance or incident
  • a proper jest, and never heard before, that Suffolk should demand a whole fifteenth for costs and charges
  • —William Shakespeare
3 a : a frivolous mood or manner usually used with in
  • spoken in jest
b : gaiety and merriment
  • I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of excellent fancy
  • —William Shakespeare

jest

verb

Examples of jest in a Sentence

  1. It was a harmless jest.

  2. you should know that our teasing was done entirely in jest

Recent Examples of jest from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jest.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of jest

Middle English gest, geste, jeste "chivalric romance, tale, heroic deed, exploit, action, amusement," borrowed from Anglo-French geste "heroic deed, romance, tale," borrowed from Latin gesta "deeds, exploits," plural of gestum "something carried out," noun derivative from neuter of gestus, past participle of gerere "to carry, bear, conduct one's business, act, perform, do," from a verb stem ges- of uncertain origin
Note: The current senses of jest date from the 16th century. The Latin verb stem ges- is without evident Indo-European congeners. An old suggestion that it derives from *h2ǵ-es-, an extended form containing the zero grade of *h2eǵ- "drive" (see agent) has been revived (as, for example, by Michiel de Vaan in Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Brill, 2008; the original suggestion was by Hermann Osthoff in Beiträge zur Kunde der indogermanischen Sprachen, Band 19 [1893], pp. 320-22.) Parallel formations adduced by Osthoff are, however, questionable, as *u̯es- (see 1wear) from *eu̯- "put on (footwear)," not possible if the root is actually *h2eu̯(H)- (see exuviae). Latin ger- is unlikely to have any relation to Old Norse kǫr "heap, pile," kǫstr "pile," kasta "to throw, fling" (see 1cast).

Synonym Discussion of jest

fun, jest, sport, game, play mean action or speech that provides amusement or arouses laughter. fun usually implies laughter or gaiety but may imply merely a lack of serious or ulterior purpose.
    • played cards just for fun
jest implies lack of earnestness and may suggest a hoaxing or teasing.
    • hurt by remarks said only in jest
sport applies especially to the arousing of laughter against someone.
    • teasing begun in sport led to anger
game is close to sport, and often stresses mischievous or malicious fun.
    • made game of their poor relations
play stresses the opposition to earnest without implying any malice or mischief.
    • pretended to strangle his brother in play

2

jest

verb

Definition of jest

jested; jesting
formal, dated
: to make jokes or jests : to say things intended to be humorous
  • "What's it like to design a building and have an apartment in it and have your name on it?" the architect asks, jesting, with his typically irrepressible energy. "It's like a hat trick."
  • —Philip Nobel
  • You voted for him? Surely you jest. [=you must be joking]

Origin and Etymology of jest

Middle English gesten "to recite romances," derivative of geste "chivalric romance, tale" — more at 1jest

jest Synonyms

Phrases

crack wise;



JEST Defined for Kids

1

jest

noun \ ˈjest \

Definition of jest for Students

1 : a comic act or remark : joke
2 : a playful mood or manner
  • He spoke of his adventure in jest.

2

jest

verb

Definition of jest for Students

jested; jesting
: to make comic remarks : joke


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