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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
(there's) many a true word spoken in jest
▪ His companion chuckled at the jest, but Gravelet, whose stage name was Blondin, was deadly serious.
▪ In jest or earnest, such a man would not wish to leave this human and more than human mystery unresolved.
▪ It was made more in jest than seriousness but it does convey the nature of the Nicholson's operation.
▪ King: I like your jest, but no.
▪ There had been anger as well at the cruel jest of fate that had brought her into love with her own brother.
▪ They exchanged words, not all of which appeared to be in jest.
▪ What he said in 1 714, perhaps in jest, later gained acceptance as the perfect moniker for the marine timekeeper.
▪ Your jest is in poor taste.
▪ A cloud rested on my mind, which was occasioned by talking and jesting.
▪ But of course you are jesting.
▪ Sometimes this is within a light-hearted context, a move from jesting about love to declaring a more serious passion.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Jest \Jest\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Jested; p. pr. & vb. n. Jesting.]

  1. To take part in a merrymaking; -- especially, to act in a mask or interlude. [Obs.]

  2. To make merriment by words or actions; to joke; to make light of anything.

    He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

    Syn: To joke; sport; rally.

    Usage: To Jest, Joke. One jests in order to make others laugh; one jokes to please himself. A jest is usually at the expense of another, and is often ill-natured; a joke is a sportive sally designed to promote good humor without wounding the feelings of its object. ``Jests are, therefore, seldom harmless; jokes frequently allowable. The most serious subject may be degraded by being turned into a jest.''


Jest \Jest\ (j[e^]st), n. [OE. jeste, geste, deed, action, story, tale, OF. geste, LL. gesta, orig., exploits, neut. pl. from L. gestus, p. p. of gerere to bear, carry, accomplish, perform; perh. orig., to make to come, bring, and perh. akin to E. come. Cf. Gest a deed, Register, n.]

  1. A deed; an action; a gest. [Obs.]

    The jests or actions of princes.
    --Sir T. Elyot.

  2. A mask; a pageant; an interlude. [Obs.]

    He promised us, in honor of our guest, To grace our banquet with some pompous jest.

  3. Something done or said in order to amuse; a joke; a witticism; a jocose or sportive remark or phrase. See Synonyms under Jest, v. i.

    I must be sad . . . smile at no man's jests.

    The Right Honorable gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests, and to his imagination for his facts.

  4. The object of laughter or sport; a laughingstock.

    Then let me be your jest; I deserve it.

    In jest, for mere sport or diversion; not in truth and reality; not in earnest.

    And given in earnest what I begged in jest.

    Jest book, a book containing a collection of jests, jokes, and amusing anecdotes; a Joe Miller.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.)). Related: Jested; jesting.


n. 1 (context archaic English) An act performed for amusement; a joke. 2 (context archaic English) Someone or something that is ridiculed; the target of a joke. 3 (context obsolete English) A deed; an action; a gest. 4 (context obsolete English) A mask; a pageant; an interlude. vb. To tell a joke; to talk in a playful manner; to make fun of something or someone.

  1. n. a humorous anecdote or remark intended to provoke laughter; "he told a very funny joke"; "he knows a million gags"; "thanks for the laugh"; "he laughed unpleasantly at hisown jest"; "even a schoolboy's jape is supposed to have some ascertainable point" [syn: joke, gag, laugh, jape]

  2. activity characterized by good humor [syn: joke, jocularity]

  3. v. tell a joke; speak humorously; "He often jokes even when he appears serious" [syn: joke]

  4. act in a funny or teasing way [syn: joke]

Jest (horse)

Jest (1910–1921) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare, best known for winning two Classics in 1913. The filly won four times from eight races in a track career which lasted from July 1912 until July 1913. As a two-year-old in 1912 she won twice from four starts. On her three-year-old debut she won the 1000 Guineas over one mile at Newmarket and then won the Oaks over one and a half miles at Epsom a month later. She was retired from racing after being beaten in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. As a broodmare she produced the 1921 Epsom Derby winner Humorist before dying at the age of eleven.

Usage examples of "jest".

At any rate she had a jesting air, and the bystanders noticed that she pronounced the words of her abjuration with a smile.

Sis and old Si and Shep Hodgden and Gimmy Biddle and Charles Fifield was there and father said this will make jest the horse you want for your store and old Si said she aint biger than a rat and father said i gess she is big enuf to carry out all your lodes unless you put down your price, and then they all laffed at Si, and then Si said she was a puller and father said what do you want Josiar one that you have to push, and then they laffed agen and when father called him Josiar i know Si had better look out for when father calls me Henry i know i am in for a liking.

Pewt dident bring those close back in about 5 minits he wood go up and boot him down to our house and back agen and jest then Mister Purington came into the yard holding Pewt by the ear.

Two pages and three gentlemen were waiting upon him, and Mad Noll, the jester, stood at the head of the bed, now and then jingling his bawble and passing some quaint jest upon the chance of making his master smile.

In the course of dinner Tiretta, who was always in high spirits and loved a jest, began to flirt with the girl, whom he saw for the first time.

After we had laughed, jested, drank, and eaten, we rose from the table and began to dance anew.

The hours passed by in jests and merriment, and when we sat down to supper I made the champagne corks fly to such an extent that the girls began to get rather gay.

She then began to jest and toy, and though her dress was extremely disordered she seemed to think that her charms would exercise no power over me.

The good man began to philosophise and to jest on her malady, and he told me some stories, germane to the question, which the girls pretended not to understand.

Madame Zeroli had spoken enthusiastically about me, and had taken the jests of the two other ladies in good part, boasting that she could keep me at Aix as long as she remained there herself.

No doubt the old cheery publicity is a little embarrassing to the two most concerned, and the old marriage customs, the singing of the bride and bridegroom to their nuptial couch, the frank jests, the country horse-play, must have fretted the souls of many a lover before Shelley, who, it will be remembered, resented the choral celebrations of his Scotch landlord and friends by appearing at his bedroom door with a brace of pistols.

King of the Sun and the Moon and the Rising Tide, et cetera, thanks for marrying me at last after sleeping with me for a thousand and one nights and begetting three children on me and listening while I amused you with proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips and jests and admonitory instances, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories and elegies and satires and Allah alone knows what else!

The chiastic structure of the sequences and genders amused me, but after a moment another thought occurred to me, clouding my spirits, and I brought it up to her only half in jest.

Nevertheless, De la Haye, who was bursting with curiosity, could not refrain from breaking some jests on me.

The poor devil understood the allusion, and as I liked him I reproached myself for having humiliated him unintentionally, but I could not resist the temptation to jest.