Share this entry

jest Syllabification: jest

Definition of jest in English:


1A thing said or done for amusement; a joke: there are jests about administrative gaffes it was said in jest
More example sentences
  • Quebec never made demands to the federal government in jest or with flippant jokes.
  • He often said that in jest, and Kat joked about it with him.
  • In jest or not, this is not particularly sporting if you ask me.
joke, witticism, funny remark, gag, quip, sally, pun;
in fun, as a joke, tongue in cheek, playfully, jokingly, facetiously, frivolously, for a laugh
1.1 archaic An object of derision: lowly virtue is the jest of fools


[no object] Back to top  
Speak or act in a joking manner: you jest, surely? [with direct speech]: “I don’t know about maturing,” jests William
More example sentences
  • Mocking a few for not knowing the band's hometown heroes the MC5, the Suicide Machines joked and jested throughout a powerful (but disturbingly short) set.
  • I sipped my ale, and wondered what if anything the two men had spoken of while I jested with Hildfleda.
  • ‘Tonight shows my sense of fortitude and courage,’ he jested.
fool around, play a practical joke, tease, kid, pull someone's leg, pull/jerk/yank someone's chain, have someone on;
joke, quip, gag, tell jokes, crack jokes
informal wisecrack


Late Middle English: from earlier gest, from Old French geste, from Latin gesta 'actions, exploits', from gerere 'do'. The original sense was 'exploit, heroic deed', hence 'a narrative of such deeds' (originally in verse); later the term denoted an idle tale, hence a joke (mid 16th century).

  • In the Middle Ages a jest was not a joke but a notable exploit. It was spelled gest, and came from the Latin word gesta ‘actions, exploits’. It has the same root as gesture (Late Middle English). Jest came to be used for a narrative of someone's deeds, and from that became a word for ‘an idle story’ and then ‘a joke’.

Words that rhyme with jest

abreast, arrest, attest, beau geste, behest, bequest, best, blessed, blest, breast, Brest, Bucharest, Budapest, celeste, chest, contest, crest, digest, divest, guest, hest, infest, ingest, lest, Midwest, molest, nest, northwest, pest, prestressed, protest, quest, rest, self-addressed, self-confessed, self-possessed, southwest, suggest, test, Trieste, unaddressed, unexpressed, unimpressed, unpressed, unstressed, vest, west, wrest, zest

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈwɪpəsnapə
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...