Definition of gist in English:



  • 1The substance or essence of a speech or text.

    ‘she noted the gist of each message’
    • ‘The minutiae of meetings remains private, but the general gist is that it was a problem and it has been addressed.’
    • ‘I didn't completely understand all they'd just said, but I thought I had the general gist of it.’
    • ‘That, of course, was the gist of the original sales pitch.’
    • ‘Ring us and make some easy money, was the gist of the message.’
    • ‘In general, no one wrote anything that strongly contradicted the gist of the review.’
    • ‘There is more - much more - in a similar vein but you get the gist.’
    • ‘The gist is that they feel the choice and range of goods has gone down and prices have gone up.’
    • ‘The gist of his presentation was how important a good education and critical thinking are.’
    • ‘The gist of everything is correct, but I just don't talk like that.’
    • ‘The script was totally written, every line was there, but he just wanted us to get a general gist of the scene.’
    • ‘Faint voices floated to him and he caught the general gist of the conversation.’
    • ‘Peter spoke a few words with him, then told us the gist of the exchange.’
    • ‘The student retains the information while he/she distills a main idea from the gist of the text.’
    • ‘You really have to read the whole thing to get the gist of his message.’
    • ‘The gist of this whining is that there's something wrong with the voters.’
    • ‘The general gist of the plots are all protagonists love and lose out.’
    • ‘It was all in German though, so I couldn't give you the gist of it.’
    • ‘I can remember the general gist of them, but nothing specific.’
    • ‘I did not catch the whole gist of his speech, but I assume that he is forcing us, or compelling us by vote, to sit on Fridays.’
    • ‘It seems he just cannot grasp the gist of the game.’
    essence, substance, quintessence, main idea, main theme, central idea, central theme, nub, core, heart, heart of the matter, nucleus, kernel, pith, marrow, meat, burden, crux, important point
    thrust, direction, drift, sense, meaning, significance, import
    View synonyms
  • 2Law
    The real point of an action.

    ‘damage is the gist of the action and without it the plaintiff must fail’
    • ‘The gist of the tort of unlawful interference is the intentional infliction of economic harm.’
    • ‘The substance of the libel is true: the question is whether what is stated inaccurately is of the gist of the libel.’
    • ‘Where damage is the gist of the action, as in negligence, the claimant must prove actual loss.’
    • ‘Your Honour, we would submit that the gist of the problem is what the award requires the employer to do.’
    • ‘But as I understand the law, the gist of the action of false imprisonment is the mere imprisonment.’


Early 18th century: from Old French, third person singular present tense of gesir to lie from Latin jacere. The Anglo-French legal phrase cest action gist this action lies denoted that there were sufficient grounds to proceed; gist was adopted into English denoting the grounds themselves ( gist).