genteel

adjective
gen·​teel | \ jen-ˈtēl How to pronounce genteel (audio) \

Definition of genteel

1a : having an aristocratic quality or flavor : stylish
b : of or relating to the gentry or upper class a person of genteel upbringing
c : elegant or graceful in manner, appearance, or shape the genteel manners of an old southern gentleman
d : free from vulgarity or rudeness : polite
2a : maintaining or striving to maintain the appearance of superior or middle-class social status or respectability a shabby genteel mansion
b(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

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Other Words from genteel

genteelly \ jen-​ˈtē(l)-​lē How to pronounce genteelly (audio) \ adverb
genteelness noun

Get Fancy With Genteel

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.

Examples of genteel in a Sentence

a person of genteel upbringing She was born into a genteel family. an elderly woman living in genteel poverty speaking in a genteel accent They lived in a more genteel era. the genteel manners of an old southern gentleman
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Recent Examples on the Web

The feeling of being taken care of, truly taken care of, is at the heart of the salon’s mission, from the genteel attentiveness down to the microscopic health of the hair fibers. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "The Master of French-Girl Hair Opens His First New York Salon," 16 Oct. 2018 Starting with Richard Nixon, every Republican candidate who took the White House employed some form of what had been named, in a deceptively genteel turn of phrase, the Southern Strategy. Yascha Mounk, The New Yorker, "The Rise of McPolitics," 12 Jan. 2015 While being educated at Brearley, Goodman embraced the 1960s with genteel rebellion. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Vogue’s Tonne Goodman Retraces 20 Years of Fashion in Her New Book," 15 Mar. 2019 And Reese has given a very genteel, Southern, ladylike middle finger to all of it. Zoë Ghertner, Vogue, "Reese Witherspoon: Activist, Advocate, Hollywood’s Moral Compass," 10 Jan. 2019 In Paris, where her mother left her to live alone at the age of 15, Christie attended genteel establishments like Miss Dryden’s School and, more assiduously, studied piano and singing. Anna Mundow, WSJ, "‘Agatha Christie’ Review: The Queen of the Cozy," 2 Mar. 2018 How can a mere scent encapsulate the mutinous desires that even the shyest, most genteel among us are harboring these days? Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "Maison Margiela’s New Fragrance Is Starting a Revolution—Just Ask Its 6 Bold Celebrity Muses," 25 Sep. 2018 That changed in 2017, when Casa de Francisca moved from the genteel Jardim Paulista neighborhood to the second floor, bringing a cultural jolt to a still rough and tumble area. Seth Kugel, New York Times, "36 Hours in São Paulo," 1 Mar. 2018 The Godwin children were cared for by an African-American nanny and attended genteel parties on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Harriott Daley, the Capitol’s First Telephone Operator," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'genteel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of genteel

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for genteel

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

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Dictionary Entries near genteel

Genseric

gent

gentamicin

genteel

genteelism

genthelvite

genthite

Statistics for genteel

Last Updated

9 May 2019

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Time Traveler for genteel

The first known use of genteel was in 1601

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More Definitions for genteel

genteel

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of genteel

somewhat old-fashioned : 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

adjective
gen·​teel | \ jen-ˈtēl How to pronounce genteel (audio) \

Kids Definition of genteel

1 : relating to the upper classes a genteel family
2 : having an elegant, tasteful, or polite quality genteel behavior

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More from Merriam-Webster on genteel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with genteel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for genteel

Spanish Central: Translation of genteel

Nglish: Translation of genteel for Spanish Speakers

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