A beau geste ("beautiful gesture") is something you do that's kind and noble but meaningless. You do it for show, and maybe you really do mean it, but it has no real effect.
(The "ZH" sound is like the "J" in "Jacques.")
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one beau geste or multiple beaux gestes.)
The plural, "beaux gestes," is pronounced the same as the singular.
How to use it:
Be sure that this fancy term suits your audience and occasion.
Talk about someone's beau geste (or the beau geste of someone,) or say that some action was just a beau geste. You can say that something was a beau geste of a certain kind of emotion: a beau geste of devotion, a beau geste of good faith, a beau geste of friendship, etc. You might acclaim or reject something as a beau geste, or honor or salute something with a beau geste.
Is it merely a beau geste to tell someone on Facebook that you're praying for them? Maybe it depends on your follow-through.
Signing a petition is a beau geste, but giving up your free time to volunteer is an action that speaks much louder.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "beau geste" means when you can explain it without saying "nice gesture" or "display of intention."
Think of something kind that someone said to you, even though you didn't believe it. Or, think of something generous that someone offered to you, even though you didn't accept it. Then fill in the blanks: "I was (flattered by) / (grateful for) / (impressed with) (someone's) beau geste: he/she _____."
Example: "I was grateful for my husband's grandmother's beau geste: she offered to let us stay in one of the spare bedrooms in her home for as long as we'd like."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
We’re starting off with easy questions, then working our way toward some whoppers at the end of the month, all the while focusing on funny, unusual words; surprising word histories; and cool tidbits about the language.
Which two musical instruments got their names from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy and victory?
The violin and the fiddle.
Try this one today. It should feel moderately difficult:
"Algebra” comes from words in what language, meaning “reunion of broken parts”?
A Point Well Made:
Jared Diamond: “Don’t words such as ‘civilization,’ and phrases such as ‘rise of civilization,’ convey the false impression that civilization is good, tribal hunter-gatherers are miserable, and history for the past 13,000 years has involved progress toward greater human happiness?... The so-called blessings of civilization are mixed.”
1. The closest opposite of BEAU GESTE is
A. DISPLAYED LOYALTY
B. AMBIGUOUS FEELING
C. CONCEALED INTENTION
2. We salute _____ as a pure, undeniable beau geste.
A. the fine workmanship of this furniture
B. the new annual award to be given in his memory
C. the difficult sacrifice he made for his family
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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