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)

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 There were two races to close out the final day of the U.S. Olympic long-track speedskating trials at the Pettit National Ice Center but there was one Olympic gold-medal gesture. Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 Jan. 2022 Brown appeared to gesture for the crowd to cheer on his way into the tunnel, despite being in the middle of a road game at the Jets' home stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, 3 Jan. 2022 The fashion industry has grown exponentially in 100 years and operates today in a trickle-up rather than trickle-down manner, but some things never change, like the nostalgic gesture and the importance of trends. Vogue, 3 Jan. 2022 Then the students would slap their mouths and make an insensitive war-whoop gesture. Cameron Fields, cleveland, 1 Jan. 2022 For all the profundity of his ideas, Tutu is possibly best known for his quick humor, and his instinct toward intimacy of touch and gesture. The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Dec. 2021 The highlights of the film are the ones that most resemble conventional action sequences, but ones with piquant touches of staging, as when Macbeth duels with Siward (Richard Short) before murdering him with an offhand gesture. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 25 Dec. 2021 The Rodríguez brothers stay close on Montilla throughout the film, capturing the actress’s every anguished gesture. Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 21 Dec. 2021 Of note: Even Biden's gesture of good will toward Trump supporters was largely ignored by MAGA media. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 21 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The play seems to gesture to the tension in the room, that Della Rose is hiding her friendship with Jimmy from her husband. Jerald Pierce,, 2 Nov. 2021 The show’s neo-Surrealists and abstractionists are too miscellaneous and hermetic to do more than gesture in a compensatory direction. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2021 This year, the Lyman maze has a 1970s music theme, with a guitar, a musical note, a peace sign, a heart and a hand making the heavy metal horns gesture all part of the design. Christopher Arnott,, 17 Oct. 2021 But the fact that Netflix is funneling this effort through its treasury department, rather than a diversity and inclusion committee or philanthropic arm, does at least gesture toward a sense that the investment might be serious and sustained. Victor Luckerson, Wired, 5 Oct. 2021 Her presence seems at once to gesture in the direction of recurrent arguments about Bond casting — does the character have to be male? New York Times, 29 Sep. 2021 Labatut seems to gesture toward a justification for his mode of narrative in his long section on Heisenberg and Schrödinger, which gives the book its English title. Ruth Frankli, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2021 In both novels, when Doerr wants to gesture at immensity, he . . . James Wood, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 At one point, the dancers took us by the hand and showed us how to move our hips and gesture with our hands. Nadia Owusu, Travel + Leisure, 9 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near gesture



gesture language

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Statistics for gesture

Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gesture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for gesture



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on gesture

Nglish: Translation of gesture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gesture for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gesture


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