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 final movement, a hunting song, more evoked a genteel tableau than a chase. Zoë Madonna, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston Symphony Orchestra begins Tanglewood season in style," 7 July 2019 This was especially true of guitarist and lead singer Dan Wilson, whose voice during the 1990s was charmingly thin, with a genteel falsetto and an overall warble. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest 2019: Skillet, Semisonic, more of the best and worst from the side stages on Day 10," 6 July 2019 How on earth did the fiery New Orleans star team up with the genteel Vermont ice cream makers? Doug Maccash, nola.com, "Big Freedia partners with Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream benefit," 27 June 2019 More Stories Much of the show’s genteel, celebratory sensibility comes from the presence of Curry herself. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Wholesome Fun of Family Food Fight," 21 June 2019 This list of accomplishments and accolades, as well as his genteel persona, should not mask Will’s talent for controversy. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Conservative Sensibility Is George Will’s Definitive Declaration," 20 June 2019 Williams finally relented and called timeout, and the genteel North Carolina coach with the aw-shucks disposition spent most of it savagely ripping into his bench. Dave Skretta, The Seattle Times, "Hot-shooting Auburn upsets No. 1 North Carolina 97-80," 30 Mar. 2019 Literature itself began to reflect, with an appealing self-consciousness, the image of the genteel reader escaping into her paperback. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "The Invention of the “Beach Read”," 14 June 2019 Contramar is raucous and genteel and warm and glamorous, a pure expression of its chef-owner. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "What’s Next for Gabriela Cámara? A New L.A. Restaurant—And Foray into Politics," 15 May 2019

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

1 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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