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[jest] /dʒɛst/
a joke or witty remark; witticism.
a bantering remark; a piece of good-natured ridicule; taunt.
sport or fun:
to speak half in jest, half in earnest.
the object of laughter, sport, or mockery; laughing-stock.
Obsolete. an exploit.
Compare gest.
verb (used without object)
to speak in a playful, humorous, or facetious way; joke.
to speak or act in mere sport, rather than in earnest; trifle (often followed by with):
Please don't jest with me.
to utter derisive speeches; gibe or scoff.
verb (used with object)
to deride or joke at; banter.
Origin of jest
1250-1300; Middle English; variant spelling of gest
Related forms
jestful, adjective
jestingly, adverb
outjest, verb (used with object)
unjesting, adjective
unjestingly, adverb
Can be confused
gist, jest, just.
1. quip. See joke. 2. jape, gibe. 4. butt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for jesting
Historical Examples
  • But though seeing the danger, the mob did not think of running away; it tried to turn it by jesting with the soldiers.

    The Countess of Charny Alexandre Dumas (pere)
  • She knew that this jesting choice would have serious import.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • And were not trusting lovers and all too-confiding husbands the legitimate butt of all jesting?

    Under the Rose Frederic Stewart Isham
  • Daisy laughed gayly at recollection of the London woman's jesting.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • At another time he would have knocked my head off, but now my jesting affected him no more than a sermon.

    The Men of the Moss-Hags S. R. Crockett
  • Some of his readers complain that they often do not know whether he is serious or jesting.

    Samuel Butler: A Sketch Henry Festing Jones
  • And what are you, pray, who can openly abuse a young man for the crime of talking and jesting with his cousin?

  • "Undoubtedly,—'t is a jesting matter," he answered with terrible irony.

    The Suitors of Yvonne Raphael Sabatini
  • We are jesting, but, as an Ulster Orangeman would say, “it is in good Protestant earnest.”

  • You are jesting, uncle, she replied, but her heart was heavy already.

    The Fifth String
    John Philip Sousa
British Dictionary definitions for jesting


something done or said for amusement; joke
a frivolous mood or attitude; playfulness; fun: to act in jest
a jeer or taunt
an object of derision; laughing stock; butt
to act or speak in an amusing, teasing, or frivolous way; joke
to make fun of (a person or thing); scoff or mock
Derived Forms
jestful, adjective
jesting, adjective, noun
jestingly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: variant of gest
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 jesting



early 13c., geste, "narrative of exploits," from Old French geste "action, exploit," from Latin gesta "deeds," neuter plural of gestus, past participle of gerere "to carry, behave, act, perform" (see gest). Sense descended through "idle tale" (late 15c.) to "mocking speech, raillery" (1540s) to "joke" (1550s).


1520s, "to speak in a trifling manner;" 1550s, "to joke," from Middle English gesten "recite a tale" (late 14c.), from geste (see jest (n.)). Sense of "to speak in a trifling manner" is from 1520s. Related: Jested; jesting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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