gen·​tile | \ ˈjen-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce gentile (audio) \

Definition of gentile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 often capitalized : a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith especially : a Christian as distinguished from a Jew
2 : heathen, pagan
3 often capitalized : a non-Mormon



Definition of gentile (Entry 2 of 2)

1 often capitalized

a : of or relating to the nations at large as distinguished from the Jews also : of or relating to Christians as distinguished from the Jews
b : of or relating to non-Mormons
2 : heathen, pagan
3 [ borrowed from Latin gentīlis ] : relating to a tribe or clan

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Synonyms for gentile

Synonyms: Noun

heathen, idolater (or idolator), pagan

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Examples of gentile in a Sentence


a strict sect that believes that fellowship with gentiles should exist only for the purposes of conversion

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For the first time, righteous gentiles — non-Jews recognized by Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the Holocaust — will receive a monthly pension from the German government., "Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium breaches nuclear deal limit," 2 July 2019 Yiddish has the phrase shanda fur die goyim to describe a Jew who misbehaves in places and ways that gentiles can see. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.," 5 Dec. 2018 Photo: tony gentile/Reuters The small fiscal space for delivering tax and spending promises may be shrinking further because of weakening economic growth. Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, "Italy Faces Crunch Time on Budget," 19 Sep. 2018 In contrast to most overtly Jewish comedy, which usually compares Jews and gentiles, most of his material juxtaposes the frum and not frum. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "What’s So Funny About Orthodox Judaism? This Comic Has One Answer," 13 June 2018 Because of Easter, the gentiles, too, could be embraced in a relationship—a covenant—with the one God, which was embodied in righteous living. George Weigel, WSJ, "The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World," 30 Mar. 2018 This doesn’t sit well with Moti (Zohar Strauss), Anat’s Orthodox brother-in-law, whose disapproval of the lonely gentile in their midst subtly pokes at historical animus. Ofir Raul Graizer, New York Times, "Review: A German ‘Cakemaker’ and an Israeli Widow Share Loss and Cookies," 28 June 2018 Intensely private behind their walls of privet, genteel and yes, primarily gentile, the club system continues to thrive in the Hamptons, in spite of the headwinds of social change or supposed dearth of clubbable types. Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "High Society Photographer Bert Morgan Chronicled the Hamptons' Smart Set Before Everything Changed," 13 June 2018 His father, Herman, was an insurance manager for Metropolitan Life who felt that his career had been thwarted by the gentile executives who ran the company. Charles Mcgrath,, "Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, dies at 85," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews have higher average IQ scores than gentile whites. Robert Verbruggen, National Review, "Why I Write about Race and IQ," 5 July 2017 Another retold accounts of Jewish blood libel, myths of Jews using the blood of gentile children in sacrifice rituals, in medieval Russian villages. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, "Leo Frank was lynched for a murder he didn’t commit. Now neo-Nazis are trying to rewrite history.," 22 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gentile.' 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 gentile


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gentile


Middle English gentyl, gentile — more at gentle entry 2

Note: Historically the same word as gentle entry 2, with full vowel in the final syllable under influence of the Medieval and Late Latin source word.


Middle English gentyl, gentile — more at gentle entry 1

Note: See note at gentile entry 1.

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Statistics for gentile

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for gentile

The first known use of gentile was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for gentile



English Language Learners Definition of gentile

: a person who is not Jewish


noun, often capitalized
gen·​tile | \ ˈjen-ˌtīl How to pronounce gentile (audio) \

Kids Definition of gentile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who is not Jewish


adjective, often capitalized

Kids Definition of gentile (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to people who are not Jewish

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More from Merriam-Webster on gentile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gentile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gentile

Spanish Central: Translation of gentile

Nglish: Translation of gentile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gentile for Arabic Speakers

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