gesture

Definitions

General English

Media Studies

  • noun a movement of the body, either made deliberately to signify something or unconsciously, but which reveals something about what the person making the gesture is thinking

Origin & History of “gesture”

Originally, a person’s gesture was their ‘bearing’, the way they ‘carried’ themselves: ‘He was a knight of yours full true, and comely of gesture’, Sir Cleges 1410. But by the 16th century it was well on its way via ‘bodily movement’ to ‘bodily movement conveying a particular message’. The word came from medieval Latin gestūra, a derivative of Latin gerere ‘carry, conduct oneself, act’. A parallel derivative was gestus ‘action’ (ultimate source of English jest and jester), whose diminutive gesticulus produced English gesticulate (17th c.).
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