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Gist vs. Jist

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips

English has many words that are spelled differently and have different meanings, but which, when spoken, sound similar or even exactly the same. These words are called homophones, and they can make life confusing for someone who isn’t familiar with them. To make matters even worse, inexperienced writers are prone to misusing these words, which only adds to the confusion. Fortunately, there is any easy trick to figuring out whether gist or jist should be used in any situation.


The word gist originated from early 18th century: from Old French, third person singular present tense of gesir ‘to lie’, from Latin jacere . The Anglo-French legal phrase cest action gist ‘this action lies’ denoted that there were sufficient grounds to proceed; gist was adopted into English denoting the grounds themselves (sense 2).

Gist as noun:

The word gist is used as a noun which means the substance or general meaning of a speech or text.

It was hard to get the gist of Pedro's talk.

In law, gist means the real point of an action.

Damage is the gist of the action and without it the plaintiff must fail.

Use of gist:

Gist is a noun that means a quick summary or the main point of something. These are the correct spellings of the word and you should always use these spellings.


The gist of his response was that his job as prime minister was to make tough decisions and that while he regretted many of the consequences of this one, he stood by it as the best available option at the time. –The New York Times

Jacobson said he hasn’t spoken with White personally but that White communicated with the team via a group text after he came to his decision. The gist of White’s message, Jacobson said, was basically, “Sorry it went like this.” –Lincoln Star Journal

Use of jist:

Sometimes, however, writers substitute jist for the word gist. To do so is an error. The word jist is a pronunciation spelling of the word just when spoken with an American Southern accent.

Gist or jist:

To sum up, then, gist is the summary or main point of something. Jist is not a proper word in and of itself, but it can be a creative way to spell just if you are attempting to convey a specific pronunciation of that word. If you can’t decide whether to use jist vs. gist, remember that gist is a good word for a summary or main point, and jist is just wrong.

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