The thing to remember about gesture, whether you're using it as a verb or a noun, is that not only is it a movement of the hands or body, but it's also a movement that has some meaning, intention, or emotion behind it.

When you use gesture, you are entering into a whole history of human communication, because there is no language that exists entirely without gesture (a fun fact to bring up at parties). People can't communicate without gesture. It's so connected to intention that there is a phrase "empty gesture," used to mean an action or movement that is without genuine feeling.

Definitions of gesture

n motion of hands or body to emphasize or help to express a thought or feeling

jab, jabbing, poke, poking, thrust, thrusting
a sharp hand gesture (resembling a blow)
ritual hand movement in Hindu religious dancing
Type of:
motility, motion, move, movement
a change of position that does not entail a change of location

n the use of movements (especially of the hands) to communicate familiar or prearranged signals

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a gesture that is part of a sign language
a deliberate and vigorous gesture or motion
a beckoning gesture
facial expression, facial gesture
a gesture executed with the facial muscles
a showy gesture
a gesture of greeting or elation; one person's upraised palm slaps the upraised palm of another person
previous question
a motion calling for an immediate vote on the main question under discussion by a deliberative assembly
a gesture involving the shoulders
wafture, wave, waving
the act of signaling by a movement of the hand
V sign
a sign (for victory); making a V with the index and middle fingers
a sign of assent or salutation or command
bow, bowing, obeisance
bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame or greeting
sign of the cross
a gesture with the right hand moving to form a cross; used by Catholics as a profession of faith
curtsey, curtsy
bending the knees; a gesture of respect made by women
a representation of a facial expression (as a smile or frown) created by typing a sequence of characters in sending email
an expression of openmouthed astonishment
face, grimace
a contorted facial expression
frown, scowl
a facial expression of dislike or displeasure
grin, grinning, smile, smiling
a facial expression characterized by turning up the corners of the mouth; usually shows pleasure or amusement
a facial expression characteristic of a person laughing
an angry vicious expression
straight face
a serious facial expression giving no evidence of interest or amusement
closing one eye quickly as a signal
the facial expression of sudden pain
brandish, flourish
the act of waving
genuflection, genuflexion
the act of bending the knees in worship or reverence
kotow, kowtow
a former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission
scrape, scraping
a deep bow with the foot drawn backwards (indicating excessive humility)
a deep bow; a Muslim form of salutation
Type of:
visual communication
communication that relies on vision

n something done as an indication of intention

“a political gesture
“a gesture of defiance”
beau geste
a gracious (but usually meaningless) gesture
Type of:
indicant, indication
something that serves to indicate or suggest

v show, express, or direct through movement

“He gestured his desire to leave”
gesticulate, motion
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signal by winking
exsert, extend, hold out, put out, stretch forth, stretch out
thrust or extend out
raise one's shoulders to indicate indifference or resignation
clap, spat
clap one's hands together
acclaim, applaud, clap, spat
clap one's hands or shout after performances to indicate approval
bless, sign
make the sign of the cross over someone in order to call on God for protection; consecrate
express or signify by nodding
cross oneself
make the sign of the cross; in the Catholic religion
bow, bow down
bend one's knee or body, or lower one's head
shake (a body part) to communicate a greeting, feeling, or cognitive state
beckon, wave
signal with the hands or nod
extend a joint beyond its normal range
applaud with shouts of `bravo' or `brava'
conge, congee
perform a ceremonious bow
Type of:
communicate, intercommunicate
transmit thoughts or feelings

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