Definition of genteel
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
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
genteellyplay \jen-ˈtē(l)-lē\ adverb
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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
Recent Examples of genteel from the Web
Her genteel manners and femininity coexist easily with her toughness.
Certainly, although that era is remembered as a time of relative bipartisan cordiality, there were also major moments of social friction, even during periods when Washington was considered more genteel.
WWE-level trash talking it may not be, but in the genteel surroundings of federal court, those practically qualify as fighting words.
But this week the town’s genteel rhythm was disrupted by news that one of its residents had opened fire on Republican congressmen and their aides hundreds of miles away in the Washington suburbs.
Maybe the defiance wasn’t so genteel, with him augmenting the orchestra with guest players from Iran and Iraq.
But the size of the gathering and the litter some partiers left behind in the genteel Bayou St. John neighborhood irritated others.
Adler, who was 47 when Bryant filed her complaint, is now a genteel, silver-haired 73-year-old.
A more genteel exploration of life’s inevitable decay can be found in Martha Cooley’s GUESSWORK:
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.
Get Fancy With gentil
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.
GENTEEL Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of genteel for Students
1 : relating to the upper classes a genteel family
2 : having an elegant, tasteful, or polite quality genteel behavior
Seen and Heard
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