[ jes-cher ]
/ ˈdʒɛs tʃər /
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See synonyms for: gesture / gestured / gestures / gesturing on Thesaurus.com

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.
the use of such movements to express thought, emotion, etc.
any action, courtesy, communication, etc., intended for effect or as a formality; considered expression; demonstration: a gesture of friendship.
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.
to make or use a gesture or gestures.
verb (used with object), ges·tured, ges·tur·ing.
to express by a gesture or gestures.


These Hand Gestures Have Very Different Meanings In Other Cultures

Hand gestures, of course, can have very different meanings abroad. With the OK sign, maybe you meant to communicate "I am loving this spaghetti," but the waiter saw :"You're an a**hole."

Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of gesture

1375–1425; late Middle English <Medieval Latin gestūra mode of action, manner, bearing, equivalent to Latin gest(us) past participle of gerere to bear, carry on, perform + ūra-ure


ges·tur·al, adjectiveges·tur·er, nounun·ges·tur·al, adjectiveun·ges·tur·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


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.

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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.

How to use gesture in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for gesture

/ (ˈdʒɛstʃə) /

a motion of the hands, head, or body to emphasize an idea or emotion, esp while speaking
something said or done as a formality or as an indication of intentiona political gesture
obsolete the manner in which a person bears himself; posture
to express by or make gestures; gesticulate

Derived forms of gesture

gestural, adjectivegesturer, noun

Word Origin for gesture

C15: from Medieval Latin gestūra bearing, from Latin gestus, past participle of gerere to bear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012