AskDefine | Define gist

Dictionary Definition



1 the central meaning or theme of a speech or literary work [syn: effect, essence, burden, core]
2 the choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience; "the gist of the prosecutor's argument"; "the heart and soul of the Republican Party"; "the nub of the story" [syn: kernel, substance, core, center, essence, heart, heart and soul, inwardness, marrow, meat, nub, pith, sum, nitty-gritty]

User Contributed Dictionary



From gist ( gît), from gésir ‘to lie’.



  1. The most essential part; the main idea or substance (of a longer or more complicated matter).
    • 1948: Carl Sandburg, Remembrance Rock, page 103,
      "Should they live and build their church in the American wilderness, their worst dangers would rise in and among themselves rather than outside. That was the gist of the lesson from their pastor and "wellwiller" John Robinson."
    • 1996, Nicky Silver, Etiquette and Vitriol, Theatre Communications Group 1996, p. 10:
      I was really just vomiting images like spoiled sushi (that may be an ill-considered metaphor, but you get my gist).
    • 2003, David McDuff, translating Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, Penguin 2003 p. 183:
      I don't remember his exact words, but the gist of it was that he wanted it all for nothing, as quickly as possible, without any effort.
  2. The grounds for action in a suit.


the most essential part




Derived terms



Latin iustus



Extensive Definition

GIST may be:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

affective meaning, axiom, basis, bearing, bench mark, best part, better part, body, bulk, burden, cardinal point, case, center, chapter, chief thing, climax, coloring, concern, connotation, consequence, core, cornerstone, crisis, critical point, crux, denotation, direction, distillate, distillation, drift, effect, elixir, essence, essential, essential matter, extension, fabric, flower, focus, focus of attention, focus of interest, force, fundamental, generality, grammatical meaning, gravamen, great point, head, heading, heart, high point, hypostasis, idea, impact, implication, import, important thing, inner essence, intension, issue, kernel, keystone, landmark, lexical meaning, literal meaning, living issue, main body, main idea, main point, main thing, major part, majority, marrow, mass, material, material point, matter, matter in hand, meaning, meat, medium, milestone, most, motif, motive, nub, nucleus, nuts and bolts, overtone, pertinence, pith, pivot, plurality, point, point at issue, point in question, postulate, practical consequence, principle, problem, purport, question, quid, quiddity, quintessence, range of meaning, real issue, real meaning, recap, recapitulation, reference, referent, relation, relevance, resume, rubric, run-through, rundown, salient point, sap, scope, semantic cluster, semantic field, sense, short, significance, signification, significatum, signifie, sine qua non, soul, span of meaning, spirit, structural meaning, stuff, subject, subject matter, subject of thought, substance, substantive point, sum, sum and substance, summary, summation, symbolic meaning, tenor, text, the bottom line, the nitty-gritty, the point, theme, thrust, topic, totality of associations, transferred meaning, turning point, unadorned meaning, undertone, upshot, value
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