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

Other Words from genteel

genteelly \ jen-​ˈtē(l)-​lē How to pronounce genteel (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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web The four-person team that handles the team’s social media accounts expect to take a genteel approach to social media. Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, 8 Oct. 2021 Breakfast and dinner are included in the nightly rate, and mealtime on property is remarkably genteel. Elycia Rubin, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 May 2022 My wife, a genteel, sophisticated woman of great kindness, has been her usual empathetic, supportive self., 25 Mar. 2021 Looking more closely at their policies, neither has a gender equality platform as detailed as the Greens, who are led by Adam Bandt, a former labor lawyer comfortable with conflict, albeit with a more genteel style. Susan Harris Rimmer, CNN, 19 May 2022 After Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, the right-wing movement and right-wing media activism had become stronger nationally—and less genteel. Moira Weigel, The New Republic, 20 Dec. 2021 Many first experienced this outdoor, genteel carnival in baby strollers pushed by their mothers or grandmothers. Jacques Kelly, Baltimore Sun, 30 Apr. 2022 Sax master Ayler, of course, represents the freer side of jazz that was emerging prior to his 1970 passing, so prepare to have your mind and genteel sensibilities blown. Chris Willman, Variety, 23 Apr. 2022 Images of old catalogues show a brand already committed to promoting a simultaneously genteel and rugged lifestyle. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of genteel was in 1601

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Genteel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for genteel


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

More from Merriam-Webster on genteel

Nglish: Translation of genteel for Spanish Speakers


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