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early 15c., "manner of carrying the body," from Medieval Latin gestura "bearing, behavior," from Latin gestus "gesture, carriage, posture" (see gest). Restricted sense of "a movement of the body or a part of it" is from 1550s; figurative sense of "action undertaken in good will to express feeling" is from 1916.
1540s, from gesture (n.). Related: Gestured; gesturing.