A Grand Gesture: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 26, 2023

The phrase "a grand gesture" signifies an action that's done in a big, showy manner, typically to express affection or make amends. It's often associated with significant actions taken to impress, apologize, or show a profound emotion towards someone else.

In short:

"A grand gesture" refers to an action that is done on a large scale or in an extravagant manner to express strong feelings or to make a powerful impact.

What Does "A Grand Gesture" Mean?

The idiom "a grand gesture" conveys an exaggerated action meant to express affection or emotion in a dramatic, memorable way. If someone makes a grand gesture, they are doing something to show how much they care in an ostentatious, symbolic manner.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning include:

  • Indicates a display of enthusiasm or devotion
  • Associated with demonstrations of affection or commitment
  • Could refer to extravagant gifts, public proclamations of love, or dramatic sacrifices

Where Does "A Grand Gesture" Come From?

The phrase "a grand gesture" is relatively modern and has unclear origins. It is made up of two words: "grand" and "gesture." The word "grand" comes from the Latin word "grandis," which means "great" or "large." This word traveled through Old French, where it was known as "grant" or "grand."

The word "gesture," on the other hand, came from the Medieval Latin word "gestūra." This word means "mode of action" or "manner." So, when we put these two words together, a "grand gesture" would simply mean a large or great action or manner of performing something.

Historical Example

"Gandhi, on his part, probably hoped that apart from his action being viewed as a grand gesture of accommodation and compromise, it would take the wind out of the sails of the Leftists at Haripura just as a similar strategy in the case of Nehru had done at Lahore eight years earlier."

- A Beacon Across Asia, 1996

10 Examples of "A Grand Gesture" in Sentences

Here are some examples of using the idiom in sentences:

  • Thanks a ton for the grand gesture of funding my project; it made a significant difference.
  • After their argument, she wanted to make a grand gesture to show him she was sorry.
  • Her surprise party was a grand gesture to show how much her friends cared.
  • Sending you lots of love and gratitude for the lavish party you arranged for me. What a grand gesture!
  • His proposal involved a flash mob in the city square, truly a grand gesture of his love.
  • She made a grand gesture of support despite his cheating. Truly, love is blind.
  • She painted a huge mural on the city wall as a grand gesture of her commitment to community art.
  • Traveling across the country to apologize was a grand gesture that showed his regret.
  • Understanding that "no guts, no glory" applies to his situation, he bravely made a grand gesture of proposing in public.
  • Ping me when you're ready to make that grand gesture for Anna.

Examples of "A Grand Gesture" in Pop Culture

The phrase "a grand gesture" usually appears in romantic movies or novels where characters make significant, showy actions to express love or make amends.

Some examples include:

  • "A Grand Romantic Gesture" is a comedy/romance film starring Rohaine Arora, Morgan Bedard, and Shauna Black.
  • "What work does this grand gesture do other than get us, we the ones who stand firmly on the side of nonvictims in the indigenous context, off the hook?" is a passage from the book The Minor Gesture by Erin Manning.
  • In the movie "Love Actually," Mark's silent cue card confession of love to Juliet is a classic example of a grand gesture.

Other/Different Ways to Say "A Grand Gesture"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "a grand gesture."

Some of these include:

  • Big display
  • Dramatic demonstration
  • Significant action
  • Major move
  • Grand display

You can use these alternatives interchangeably depending on the context and the scale of the action involved.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "A Grand Gesture"

  • What does "a grand gesture" mean?

"A grand gesture" means an action that is done on a large scale or in an extravagant manner to express strong feelings or to make a powerful impact.

  • How can I use "a grand gesture" in a sentence?

"For their anniversary, he made a grand gesture by surprising her with a trip to Paris."

  • Where does the idiom "a grand gesture" come from?

The phrase is relatively modern, originating from the idea of courtly love where knights would perform grand gestures to express their devotion to a lady.

  • Can people use the phrase in written communication?

Yes, "a grand gesture" can be used in both formal and informal written communication, including letters, emails, and literary works.

  • Are there any regional differences in using the phrase?

"A grand gesture" is widely used in English-speaking countries and is generally understood across different regions.

  • Can strangers use the phrase "a grand gesture"?

Yes, the phrase is not context-specific and can be used by anyone in any situation that involves significant or dramatic actions.

  • Is it okay to use the phrase when talking about a group of people?

Yes, it can be used when discussing a group's actions, such as "the community made a grand gesture by organizing a cleanup."

  • Is it okay to use the phrase to express commitment?

Yes, it can be used to express commitment or dedication, particularly when the action taken is significant or requires considerable effort or resources.

  • What's the difference between "a grand gesture" and "a small token"?

While both phrases involve actions to express a sentiment, "a grand gesture" refers to a significant or extravagant action, whereas "a small token" refers to a modest or simple action.

  • Can one use the phrase in a romantic context?

Yes, "a grand gesture" is often used in romantic contexts to describe extravagant actions taken to express love or devotion.

Final Thoughts About "A Grand Gesture"

The idiom "a grand gesture" describes an action that is undertaken on a large scale or in an extravagant way to express strong feelings, make amends, or leave a powerful impact. It is applicable in a variety of contexts, from romantic situations to express love or devotion to apologies where someone wants to make up for a wrong done.

Key aspects of the phrase:

  • Represents significant or extravagant actions
  • Indicates a process of expressing strong emotions or making an impact
  • Applicable in a variety of contexts, both formal and informal

Use this idiom when you want to emphasize the scale or impact of an action or when describing dramatic, significant actions taken to express emotions or make amends.

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