genteel

play
adjective gen·teel \jen-ˈtēl\

Definition of genteel

  1. 1a :  having an aristocratic quality or flavor :  stylishb :  of or relating to the gentry or upper class a person of genteel upbringingc :  elegant or graceful in manner, appearance, or shape the genteel manners of an old southern gentlemand :  free from vulgarity or rudeness :  polite

  2. 2a :  maintaining or striving to maintain the appearance of superior or middle-class social status or respectability a shabby genteel mansionb (1) :  marked by false delicacy, prudery, or affectation was genteel on the surface, but had a hard heart (2) :  conventionally or insipidly pretty timid and genteel artistic style

genteelly

play \jen-ˈtē(l)-lē\ adverb

genteelness

noun

genteel was our Word of the Day on 11/25/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of genteel in a sentence

  1. a person of genteel upbringing

  2. She was born into a genteel family.

  3. an elderly woman living in genteel poverty

  4. speaking in a genteel accent

  5. They lived in a more genteel era.

  6. the genteel manners of an old southern gentleman

Did You Know?

In Roman times, the Latin noun gens was used to refer to a clan, a group of related people. Its plural gentes was used to designate all the people of the world, particularly non-Romans. An adjective form, gentilis, applied to both senses. Over time, the adjective was borrowed and passed through several languages. It came into Old French as gentil, a word that then meant "high-born" (in modern French it means "nice"); that term was carried over into Anglo-French, where English speakers found and borrowed it in the early 17th century.

Origin and Etymology of genteel

borrowed from French gentil literally, “of aristocratic birth,” going back to Old French — more at 1gentle


First Known Use: 1601


GENTEEL Defined for English Language Learners

genteel

play
adjective gen·teel \jen-ˈtēl\

Definition of genteel for English Language Learners

  • : of or relating to people who have high social status

  • : pretending or trying to have the qualities and manners of people who have high social status

  • : having a quietly appealing or polite quality


GENTEEL Defined for Kids

genteel

play
adjective gen·teel \jen-ˈtēl\

Definition of genteel for Students

  1. 1 :  relating to the upper classes a genteel family

  2. 2 :  having an elegant, tasteful, or polite quality genteel behavior



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