Definition of gist in English:


Syllabification: gist
Pronunciation: /jist


[in singular]
1The substance or essence of a speech or text: she noted the gist of each message
More example sentences
  • The minutiae of meetings remains private, but the general gist is that it was a problem and it has been addressed.
  • The general gist of the plots are all protagonists love and lose out.
  • I can remember the general gist of them, but nothing specific.
essence, substance, central theme, heart of the matter, nub, kernel, marrow, meat, burden, crux;
informal nitty-gritty
2 Law The real point of an action: damage is the gist of the action and without it the plaintiff must fail
More example sentences
  • The gist of the tort of unlawful interference is the intentional infliction of economic harm.
  • Where damage is the gist of the action, as in negligence, the claimant must prove actual loss.
  • The substance of the libel is true: the question is whether what is stated inaccurately is of the gist of the libel.


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 (sense 2).

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