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