from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The central idea; the essence. See Synonyms at substance.
  • n. Law The grounds for action in a suit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The most essential part; the main idea or substance (of a longer or more complicated matter).
  • n. The essential ground for action in a suit, without which there is no cause of action.
  • n. Resting place (especially of animals), lodging.
  • v. To summarize, to extract and present the most important parts of.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A resting place.
  • n. The main point, as of a question; the point on which an action rests; the pith of a matter.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • An aphetic form of agist (which see).
  • n. A resting-place; a couch.
  • n. A lodging-place; a place of rest or halt in traveling.
  • n. A beam: same as joist.
  • n. The point on which an action rests; the substance or pith of a matter; the main point: as, the gist of an argument.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience
  • n. the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work


From Anglo-Norman (cest action) gist, (this action) lies, third person sing. of gesir, to lie, from Latin iacēre; see yē- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French gist, from the verb gesir ("to lie down"), from Latin iaceō. Compare Modern French gésir or gîte ("lodging"). (Wiktionary)



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