View synonyms for gesture


[ jes-cher ]


  1. a movement or position of the hand, arm, body, head, or face that is expressive of an idea, opinion, emotion, etc.:

    the gestures of an orator; a threatening gesture.

  2. the use of such movements to express thought, emotion, etc.
  3. any action, courtesy, communication, etc., intended for effect or as a formality; considered expression; demonstration:

    a gesture of friendship.

  4. Digital Technology. a particular movement of the body, typically the fingers or hand, used to control or interact with a digital device (often used attributively):

    a gesture command;

    Use a two-finger pinching gesture on your touchscreen to zoom in or out.

verb (used without object)

, ges·tured, ges·tur·ing.
  1. to make or use a gesture or gestures.

verb (used with object)

, ges·tured, ges·tur·ing.
  1. to express by a gesture or gestures.


/ ˈdʒɛstʃə /


  1. a motion of the hands, head, or body to emphasize an idea or emotion, esp while speaking
  2. something said or done as a formality or as an indication of intention

    a political gesture

  3. obsolete.
    the manner in which a person bears himself; posture


  1. to express by or make gestures; gesticulate

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Derived Forms

  • ˈgestural, adjective
  • ˈgesturer, noun

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Other Words From

  • gestur·al adjective
  • gestur·er noun
  • un·gestur·al adjective
  • un·gestur·ing adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of gesture1

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English, from Medieval Latin gestūra “mode of action, manner, bearing,” from Latin gest(us) “conducted” (past participle of gerere “to carry, conduct, display”) + -ūra -ure

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Word History and Origins

Origin of gesture1

C15: from Medieval Latin gestūra bearing, from Latin gestus, past participle of gerere to bear

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Example Sentences

Deepfake videos are made by feeding hundreds of hours of video of someone into a neural network, “teaching” the network the minutiae of the person’s voice, pronunciation, mannerisms, gestures, etc.

If you are close to the couple and want to send a gift, Elaine Swann, founder of the Swann School of Protocol, says the gesture can go a long way.

From Fortune

Cultivating an antiracist company culture requires much more than a few gestures.

From Quartz

In the case of Gardner and Collins, they probably hope these gestures across the aisle will help them in their reelection battles.

This symbolic gesture was accompanied by the construction of town halls and various temples.

They could, after all, have just been trying to make a gesture toward inclusiveness.

Induction would be a fitting gesture, even now when the honor would be posthumous.

Warren makes one clearly recognizable gesture to the center, and the centrists make one recognizable gesture to the left.

But the President could easily reposition it as a friendly “pro-gun rights” gesture by outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder.

Several of them make direct eye contact with Tompkins while others gesture suggestively toward their crotches.

But, when the car came thundering down, it was crammed to the step; with a melancholy gesture, the driver declined her signal.

She was growing a little stout, but it did not seem to detract an iota from the grace of every step, pose, gesture.

There was no vivacity in his putty-coloured features, but there were promptitude and decision in every abrupt gesture.

He even fancied that something of challenge flashed from her, though without definite words or gesture.

In dramatic interpretation the voice is a much more significant feature relatively than is the detail of gesture in pantomime.


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More About Gesture

What does gesture mean?

A gesture is a movement of the hand, arms, or other body part that is intended to indicate or emphasize something, often when speaking.

In other words, gestures are body movements that express something. For example, a wave of the hand is a common gesture used to say hello to someone. In this sense, gesture is also commonly used as a verb.

A gesture can also be an action done for a specific reason, such as to show gratitude, as in Sending him flowers was a nice gesture. 

In the context of digital technology, we interact with touchscreen devices using gestures—movements such as swiping a finger from side to side or using two fingers to “pinch” the screen and zoom in and out.

Example: When Tom walked into the office, his boss made a gesture to him to have a seat so they could talk.

Where does gesture come from?

The first records of the word gesture in English come from around 1400. It comes from the Medieval Latin word gestūra, meaning “mode of action” or “manner.” The verb gesticulate, which is synonymous with the verb sense of gesture, is based on the same root.

Most gestures are arm or hand gestures—like giving a thumbs-up or a salute or just waving your arms around when you talk. But you can gesture with all kinds of body parts, including your head, face, or even the entire body. Gestures are a part of body language, and they can emphasize or even change the meaning of what we’re saying. Of course, many gestures are used without speech. Sign language consists entirely of gestures. Some gestures are nearly universal, but some gestures that are common in one culture may mean something very different in another.

Similarly, the gestures we perform on touchscreen devices are often the same or similar from one device to the next (like pinching to zoom), but they can differ.

In a less literal sense, a gesture is any action done as a formality or intended to demonstrate an intention, as in I showed up to the party as a gesture of friendship. We often use gesture in this way to indicate that what’s being done is less important than what it’s supposed to communicate, as in It doesn’t matter what you get her—the gift is just a gesture.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to gesture?

  • gestural (adjective)
  • gesturer (noun)

What are some synonyms for gesture?

What are some words that share a root or word element with gesture

What are some words that often get used in discussing gesture?

How is gesture used in real life?

Gestures may differ from culture to culture, but gesturing is universal.



Try using gesture!

Is gesture used correctly in the following sentence?

If he doesn’t see you, try to gesture to him to get his attention.

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