Beau geste defined here seems to be a noble act and from what I know to be the definition of sin, which has the word "immoral" in it, "beau geste" should be its antonym. Even if it isn't the perfect antonym, but it is according to me, can I, or rather, should I use it as the antonym of sin?

I saw all previous posts but didn't find any settling answer.

  • 2
    This is probably a local thing, because I'm from NYC and lots of Jewish people live here, but I've heard people use mitzvah as the opposite of sin, a good deed. That is to say, I've heard non-Jewish NYers use it that way; I think I've even used it, and I'm not Jewish.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 29 '16 at 14:07
  • No need to forgive me, Father, for I have beau gested.
    – GEdgar
    Apr 29 '16 at 14:27
  • Wouldn't atonement be a more appropriate antoymn for sin ?
    – k1eran
    Apr 29 '16 at 21:13
  • How has nobody in this whole question even mentioned the word virtue?
    – Angelos
    Aug 27 '19 at 18:54

We use that expression in french. I wont say it's the opposite of sin. It's just a good gesture. For ex. in a chess game you may let your opponent start the game. it's a beau geste. Not doing that is not a sin.

  • +1, this act of kindness is not exactly an antonym of sin. A "good deed" is probably a better match.
    – Graffito
    Apr 29 '16 at 22:28
  • A "good deed" is the opposite of a sin and "beau geste" is an exact calque. It may have additional senses, especially in French itself, but that doesn't negate OP's point.
    – lly
    Apr 2 '17 at 19:12

No, you shouldn't use it as an antonym for sin. First, it's obsolete, clunky, and means something else.

Its English sense doesn't have to follow its French associations but it's not a useful, terse, or well-known enough phrase to supplant more straightforward expressions such as good deed, more well-known borrowings like mitzvah, more erudite latinisms like benefact, or more long-attested archaic terms like douth and desert.

I suppose you could use it in a LARP if everyone were playing French paladins, though.

  • I barely know you you, but I'm definitely getting to like you. +1 (again).
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 2 '17 at 19:23

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