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[jist] /dʒɪst/
the main or essential part of a matter:
What was the gist of his speech?
the ground of a legal action.
Origin of gist
1720-30; < Anglo-French (cest action) gist (this matter) lies, 3rd singular present indicative of Anglo-French, Old French gesir to lie ≪ Latin jacēre
Can be confused
gist, jest, just.
1. essence, point, substance, burden, kernel, import. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gist
  • Perhaps you might give us the gist of this cautionary tale.
  • This is the gist of the poem as it appears in almost all editions.
  • The gist of the message was that I should get an auction timer and save myself a lot of time and trouble.
  • But he knows from bitter experience that the gist of it is no.
  • You could get the gist of a sentence, but not read it clearly.
  • You cannot skim it and get the “gist” of the reading.
  • And the rest is accurate enough to convey the gist.
  • The gist of the article is true, but it is not the complete picture.
  • But basically the gist of this essay is not fair.
  • The gist of the action revolves around two card-game heists.
British Dictionary definitions for gist


the point or substance of an argument, speech, etc
(law) the essential point of an action
Word Origin
C18: from Anglo-French, as in cest action gist en this action consists in, literally: lies in, from Old French gésir to lie, from Latin jacēre, from jacere to throw
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gist

1711, "the real point" (of a law case, etc.), from Anglo-French legalese phrases, e.g. cest action gist "this action lies," meaning "this case is sustainable by law," from Old French gist en "it consists in, it lies in" (third person singular present indicative of gésir "to lie"), from Latin iacet "it lies," from iacere "to lie, rest," related to iacere "to throw" (see jet (v.)). Extended sense of "essence" first recorded 1823.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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