Definition of gesture in English:



  • 1A movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning.

    ‘Alex made a gesture of apology’
    [mass noun] ‘so much is conveyed by gesture’
    • ‘Her transformation from spectator to spectacle is signified repetitively by the gesture of removing her glasses.’
    • ‘They capture the gestures of the human body in all its pity and rapture, pain and pleasure.’
    • ‘It is important that a dancer have a good facility, but they need to be able convey dramatic ideas, use dramatic gestures, and communicate feelings on stage.’
    • ‘He closed his blue eyes and spread his hands out in a gesture of surrender.’
    • ‘He made a number of rude gestures in their direction and shouted obscenities at them.’
    • ‘Chimps communicate with each other through a complex and subtle system of vocalisations, facial expressions, body postures and gestures.’
    • ‘His body language and facial gestures suggested he loathed his colleague.’
    • ‘It has to do with attitude or spirit, which is reflected in speech patterns and facial expressions, hand gestures and overall body movement.’
    • ‘Glaring after the departing man, Cael flicked a rude gesture in his direction.’
    • ‘The two boys exchange ideas through gestures, words, and drawing.’
    • ‘As they approached the lower window, Tracy made a gesture to Erin to move to the side away from the window.’
    • ‘She exclaimed, making shooing gestures with her arms.’
    • ‘These same gestures and movements, even the very words themselves, have been repeated and revived over many generations in that precise place.’
    • ‘Those quick hand gestures and body movements betray a restless energy and a need for variety and originality.’
    • ‘So what do their expressions, hand gestures, body movements and speech say about what they're really thinking and feeling?’
    • ‘This is accompanied by a thumbs-up gesture which is a simple but effective way of getting the children to respond to and interact with the teacher.’
    • ‘His gestures and movements are excessively self-aware in postures of cool and defiance, and for this very reason betray the emotions and vulnerability beneath.’
    • ‘His movements and gestures are natural and his stage presence is electric.’
    • ‘Marcus reciprocated the farewell gesture by slightly nodding his head and slowly blinking his large, intelligent eyes.’
    • ‘Will sighed and turned around slowly, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender.’
    signal, signalling, sign, signing, motion, motioning, wave, indication, gesticulation
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    1. 1.1An action performed to convey one's feelings or intentions.
      ‘Maggie was touched by the kind gesture’
      • ‘Theirs is a harmless daydream, an ultimately mild gesture of defiance against conformity.’
      • ‘It is refunding you the £34.31, and adding £100 as a gesture of goodwill.’
      • ‘As a goodwill gesture, I took several sports writers out for a meal Thursday.’
      • ‘He accepted the book and kissed it, using an Eastern gesture of respect toward the givers.’
      • ‘Throwing the amp in the canal could be a symbolic gesture, representing the idea that I was getting rid of all the stuff I didn't really need anymore.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, their neighbor didn't appreciate the kind gesture… and she sued.’
      • ‘I just received the October issue and appreciate your kind gesture in sending us extra copies.’
      • ‘Not all public gestures of affection and loyalty need to be quite so extravagant.’
      • ‘In a gesture of goodwill, a 24-hour internet cafe and a finance company in Edinburgh have offered US citizens free internet access to contact their loved ones.’
      • ‘I broke away from Andrew suddenly, in a liberating gesture of defiance.’
      • ‘Moreover, we appreciate the magnanimous gesture of the Minister of Sports for apologising in the larger interest of cricket.’
      • ‘My friendly gestures were returned with stubborn silence.’
      • ‘Making goodwill gestures only arouses suspicion and creates the appearance of weakness.’
      • ‘They were engaged in work, play activities, fights or gestures of friendship.’
      • ‘She remembers other gestures of goodwill, including an Italian who took it upon himself to cook lunch for the farmer and his family while they were at church.’
      • ‘Security Ministry officials called it a gesture of national reconciliation and said that more releases would follow.’
      • ‘Given her special circumstances, it says, it is prepared as a gesture of goodwill to fund the costs of the operation, which are about £10,000.’
      • ‘Their acceptance of Lydia is total and is signified by a gesture of affection from his mother.’
      • ‘To be frank, this was the most heartening gesture of solidarity I heard.’
      • ‘Sometimes, youngsters convey through their simple gestures what many adults can never express in a thousand words.’
      action, deed, act, move
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    2. 1.2An action performed for show in the knowledge that it will have no effect.
      ‘I hope the amendment will not be just a gesture’
      • ‘There was no indication that these paltry and tardy gestures have had any effect in dampening the mass protest movement.’
      • ‘Although some have not fully embraced open source, these sometimes small, token gestures offer us a wealth of knowledge.’
      • ‘Most of the time, it will merely be a gesture of principle, with no practical effect.’
      • ‘That G8 leaders are now making gestures of this sort betrays their knowledge that the game is up for world summitry that does not command world support.’
      • ‘I must admit that I agonised a bit about this because I felt it was a small gesture that would have little effect and give more pleasure to the person sending the card than the recipient.’
      • ‘At first he still enjoyed the sheen of effective public gestures.’
      • ‘A Department of Justice spokesperson rejected suggestions the move was a political gesture which would prove unrealistic when challenged.’
      • ‘He denied the move was a political gesture.’
      • ‘However, the seeming pointlessness of the gesture is the key to its ironic effect and the reason why it enjoys a kinship with Ferry's work.’
      • ‘He said local roads in the area would have to be improved and upgraded as a gesture to the people who would be effected.’
      • ‘Labor's intention to retain the regional council structures and consult Indigenous people over the replacement body is a gesture.’
      • ‘Above all a political gesture and propaganda exercise, the charter had less effect on American isolationists than hoped.’


  • 1 Make a gesture.

    ‘she gestured meaningfully with the pistol’
    • ‘He was talking about something with Dad and Jeremy, gesturing wildly with his free hand.’
    • ‘The kid gestured with his left arm, the shotgun still in his right.’
    • ‘"Take your pick, kid ", said the Major gesturing around the room.’
    • ‘Sir Ralph gestured to a nearby chair and waited until his daughter was seated.’
    • ‘Wayne, his blurred hand gesturing with a cigarette, was looking off to the side, mouthing something.’
    • ‘I gestured to the pile of unopened trunks at the foot of my bed.’
    • ‘Gavin kicked her leg under the table, gesturing to their glaring father meaningfully.’
    • ‘Edwards, as nearly as I can tell, never utters a word without one or more hands gesturing in some significant, word-intensifying manner.’
    • ‘‘I feel completely settled here,’ she says, gesturing to the corners of the room.’
    • ‘He gestured wildly with one hand as he spoke, trying to get his point across.’
    • ‘The big man gestured with a thumb over his shoulder.’
    • ‘He leaned forward from the back seat so he could gesture emphatically in front of the gear shift.’
    • ‘He gestured back to the door that I had just come through.’
    • ‘Then he lifted his chin, gesturing back over his shoulder.’
    • ‘Olivia gestured vaguely in the direction of the candy and Isabella took off, striding purposefully.’
    • ‘‘No need to pay,’ he said, gesturing at the tables and chairs, ‘this is my home.’’
    • ‘‘I really like your scarf’ he said, gesturing to the bandana on my head, a simple black one that I wear more often than not.’
    • ‘I couldn't find any words to say, and instead gestured helplessly.’
    • ‘He paused, then gestured expansively towards the audience.’
    • ‘He gestured disgustedly toward Michael with one hand.’
    1. 1.1[with object]Express (something) with a gesture or gestures.
      ‘he gestured his dissent at this’
      • ‘It was broken up by a blooper to right by Jason Giambi, to whom Boomer gestured thanks immediately afterwards.’
      • ‘I gestured my permission and then started to weep, remembering their occasional father.’
      • ‘I said this, even using my hands to gesture my sincerity.’
      • ‘Then, for good measure, I also gestured gratitude in the mirror when in front of him.’
      • ‘Unable to comment on the fishing fiasco, they just gestured a weary resignation at yet another fine mess.’
      • ‘Suddenly, one of the borders raises his fingers to Gregor, gesturing his observance of the large bug in his presence.’
      • ‘After each jump, she gestured her thanks, the intensity at once gone, the smile as blazing as the grimness a moment before.’
      • ‘I rested my right hand on her thigh and squeezed it, gesturing a thank you for calming me down.’
      • ‘Jim shook his head again, gesturing his helplessness with both hands.’
    2. 1.2[with object or infinitive]Direct or invite (someone) to move somewhere specified.
      ‘he gestured her to a chair’
      • ‘Jing nodded without a single word and gestured Gloria to continue what she had to say.’
      • ‘As they moved from the bridge, they gestured us to follow.’
      • ‘He gestured his other two men to take up position behind another table.’
      • ‘He tugged gently on her hand and gestured her back along the corridor.’
      • ‘She gestured me towards a screened-off area behind the check-in desk.’
      • ‘Rachelle waved her cousin away as he gestured her to the backyard, where the party was happening.’
      • ‘When they both finally arrive, she gestured them to sit down beside her.’
      • ‘He turned to the person in the corner of the pub and gestured him over.’
      • ‘The man stopped at one door among the many, opening it and gesturing the detective inside with a nod of his head.’
      • ‘Flanked by the member of team A - 2, he gestured them onward with a sweep of his arm.’
      • ‘Sean came to a small door, and opened it, gesturing her inside.’
      • ‘She quietly took a step forward, before gesturing the class to come closer.’
      • ‘She took it out and pointed it at him and curled it to gesture him to come towards her.’
      • ‘A servant in voluminous green robes ducked her head in an abbreviated bow and gestured them into the house.’
      • ‘Yet when the train settles against the platform and the passengers disembark I actually find myself politely gesturing him to board ahead of me.’
      • ‘Paloma gestured Helen to hide herself, while she turned away and headed toward south.’
      • ‘Belarus gestured his squad forward, and began to target each of the downed drones and automated turrets.’
      • ‘He walked over to his two companions, gesturing them to follow him over to the girl.’
      • ‘The man returned the salute and gestured him towards the desk in the center of the room.’
      • ‘Jasmine gestured him toward the sofa, then settled across from him in the opposite chair.’
      signal, make a gesture, make a sign, give a sign, sign, motion, wave, indicate, gesticulate
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Late Middle English: from medieval Latin gestura, from Latin gerere bear, wield, perform The original sense was bearing, deportment hence the use of posture and bodily movements for effect in oratory.