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adjective (1)

ge·​nial ˈjēn-yəl How to pronounce genial (audio)
: marked by or freely expressing sympathy or friendliness
your genial host
: favorable to growth or comfort : mild
genial sunshine
: displaying or marked by genius
genial insights
obsolete : of or relating to marriage or generation
… the genial bed …John Milton
obsolete : inborn, native
geniality noun
genially adverb


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adjective (2)

ge·​ni·​al ji-ˈnī(-ə)l How to pronounce genial (audio)
: of or relating to the chin

Did you know?

Warm, cheerful, and pleasant? That’s genial in a bottle, baby. Or at least (if such a declaration rubs you the wrong way) that’s the most common sense of genial. You may also be familiar with its closely related meaning of “favorable to growth or comfort” as in “what a girl wants most on vacation is to recline in the genial sunshine.” Or perhaps you’ve heard genial used to describe someone or something displaying or marked by genius, as in “who among us doesn’t appreciate genial insights embedded in a beautiful pop song”? After all, both genial and genius share an ancestor in the Latin word genius, meaning “a person’s disposition or inclination.” There are also older, now-obsolete senses of genial. When it first entered English from the Latin adjective genialis (“connected with marriage”) it shared that word’s matrimonial meaning. And at one time genial was also a synonym of native or inborn, describing things (such as musical talent) present or seemingly present in someone from birth.

Choose the Right Synonym for genial

gracious, cordial, affable, genial, sociable mean markedly pleasant and easy in social intercourse.

gracious implies courtesy and kindly consideration.

the gracious award winner thanked her colleagues

cordial stresses warmth and heartiness.

our host was cordial as he greeted us

affable implies easy approachability and readiness to respond pleasantly to conversation or requests or proposals.

though wealthy, she was affable to all

genial stresses cheerfulness and even joviality.

a genial companion with a ready quip

sociable suggests a genuine liking for the companionship of others.

sociable people who enjoy entertaining

Examples of genial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Hudson has also stacked up over 50 feature film roles, including 2023's genial sports comedy Champions and the recent Ghostbusters reboots. Declan Gallagher,, 28 Sep. 2023 Charles Osgood, the genial radio and television commentator who anchored CBS Sunday Morning for more than two decades, died Tuesday. Chris Koseluk, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Jan. 2024 The dynamic between their mother (the legendary Leslie Uggams) and her live-in housekeeper (Myra Lucretia Taylor) is genial rather than strained by class tension, turning one formerly climactic scene of crisis and chaos into a Hallmark moment. Bonnie Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 19 Dec. 2023 Some, like Jon Xue Zhang’s genial henchman Blood Boots, make a big impression with limited screen time; others, like Charles’ law-enforcement love interest Alexis (Highdee Kuan) or Bruce’s feckless BFF TK (Joon Lee), come off respectively like thin plot devices or lackluster comic relief. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Jan. 2024 Pissarro, so often merely genial before, becomes a quietly virtuosic painter in these last pictures. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 25 Dec. 2023 To that end, the lifelong Labour man has forged genial working relationships with members of the ruling Conservative Party. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Dec. 2023 The tempo of the kitchen increases when the house is full, though a certain genial informality prevails in the great dining room. David Denby, The New Yorker, 1 Dec. 2023 Couples converge, turn away, and re-embrace aboard a jungle Love Boat (captained by a genial man in a white uniform and nautical cap). Vulture, 17 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'genial.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective (1)

Latin genialis, from genius

Adjective (2)

Greek geneion chin, from genys jaw — more at chin

First Known Use

Adjective (1)

circa 1547, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Adjective (2)

1828, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of genial was circa 1547


Dictionary Entries Near genial

Cite this Entry

“Genial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: favoring growth or comfort
a genial climate
: being cheerful and pleasant

Medical Definition


ge·​ni·​al ji-ˈnī(-ə)l How to pronounce genial (audio)
: of or relating to the chin

More from Merriam-Webster on genial

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