beau geste

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Borrowed from French beau geste (literally beautiful gesture).


beau geste (plural beaux gestes)

  1. A gracious gesture, noble in form but often futile or meaningless in substance.
    • 1920, “The Zionist Congresses”, in G. W. Prothero, editor, Zionism:
      Chamberlain's offer was enthusiastically welcomed by a section of the Zionists and by all with gratitude. It was a beau geste on the part of the Government, and a recognition that Herzl and his following were regarded seriously in serious quarters.
    • 1988, William Manchester, The Last Lion, volume 2, page 635:
      In a magnificent beau geste, the destroyer, hopelessly trapped, turned as if to flee, threw out a smoke screen, and when the [enemy ship] charged into it, rammed her at flank speed []