genteel

adjective
gen·​teel | \jen-ˈtēl \

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 \ 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

And while the Republican deducted themselves in a genteel manner, the Democrats claiming parliamentary points of order blew their collective gasket. Fox News, "Rep. Darrell Issa talks explosive Peter Strzok hearing," 15 July 2018 The legendary club is genteel, quiet, and has counted the Queen Mother, David Cameron, and Victoria Beckham among its past visitors. Emily Selter, Town & Country, "London Travel Guide: The Best Things to Do, See, Eat, and More," 7 Aug. 2018 According to Smithsonian, roughly 4,800 people called Cerro Gordo home during its peak, though life was anything but genteel — the community saw an average of one murder per week. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Entire California ghost town for sale for under $1 million," 28 June 2018 On the rare occasion a Mets player finds himself on first base, he can be counted to proceed at a genteel pace, if at all. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Mets Are Deeply, Thoroughly Broken," 27 June 2018 The genteel sport of lawn bowling might be king in Mount Dora, but the more frenetic game of pickleball is gaining popularity. Jerry Fallstrom, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Pickleball craze takes hold in Mount Dora, though lawn bowling is still king," 22 June 2018 Instead, exhibitors are offering these movies as a more genteel alternative to popcorn fare, something for parents to enjoy as their kids go see the latest blockbuster. David Sims, The Atlantic, "What’s Driving Documentaries to Box-Office Success?," 11 July 2018 At the end of the hearing, Mr. Tester reminded Mr. Wilkie that future hearings aren’t likely to be as genteel. Ben Kesling, WSJ, "Trump’s VA Pick Stresses ‘Customer Service’," 27 June 2018 Try curling or some other genteel and insipid pastime. John Leicester, chicagotribune.com, "Video refereeing a boon and a bust at World Cup," 26 June 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

5 Dec 2018

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

: 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 \

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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