gentile

1 of 2

noun

gen·​tile ˈjen-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce gentile (audio)
plural gentiles
1
often capitalized : a person of a non-Jewish nation or of non-Jewish faith
especially : a Christian as distinguished from a Jew
2
3
often capitalized : a non-Mormon

gentile

2 of 2

adjective

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
: pagan
3
[borrowed from Latin gentīlis] : relating to a tribe or clan

Examples of gentile in a Sentence

Noun a strict sect that believes that fellowship with gentiles should exist only for the purposes of conversion
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Grossman sprinkles Yiddish and Jewish turns of phrase throughout the book, and the central conflict hangs on the push and pull between the characters' standing within their own community and their effort to gain legitimacy in the eyes of gentiles. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 21 Aug. 2023 One of the most popular posts on this weblog focuses on the differences between Ashkenazi Jews and gentiles, in particular peoples of European descent. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 6 June 2010 Of course, many gentiles also appreciated the yearning-for-a-simpler-time song, which reached deep into American culture in those postwar years. Jesse Green, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 The same goes for the show’s female secondary figures, a gentile who marries Rabbi (Sierra Boggess) and a fiery Jewish Bolshevik activist (Julie Benko, fresh from Funny Girl). Vulture, 13 Nov. 2023 The group, consisting by chance of three Jews (one of whom marries a gentile) and three gentiles (one of whom marries a Jew), inevitably falls victim to the antisemitic restrictions of National Socialism. Jesse Green, New York Times, 13 Nov. 2023 And the casting of Mirren—who, like Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer and Bradley Cooper in the forthcoming Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro, is yet another example of a famous gentile playing a famous Jew—may provide a clue as to why Golda exists at all. David Klion, The New Republic, 1 Sep. 2023 Some compositions had been smuggled to sympathetic gentiles outside the camp; others had been secreted under floorboards and behind walls. Douglas Starr, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Aug. 2023 If a film called for a Jewish character, a gentile would almost reflexively get cast in that role. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 17 Aug. 2023
Adjective
But even wealthy Jews were fearful of jeopardizing their fragile standing in gentile America. Roger Lowenstein, WSJ, 13 Dec. 2023 Harry’s internalized all sorts of ideas about the cutthroat nature of business and has a naked desire to leave behind his Jewish Bronx origins and assimilate into gentile Manhattan, even picking up a showgirl lover along the way. Jackson McHenry, Vulture, 31 Oct. 2023 In his 1945 film, Sinatra came to the defense of a Jewish boy menaced by a gentile mob. Samuel G. Freedman, The Atlantic, 10 July 2023 Franz, then 7, was put aboard a train bound for Brussels with the family’s gentile housekeeper, Irma Turnsek. Joseph Berger, New York Times, 12 June 2023 There are scattershot reports in the medical literature of gentile carriers in Spain, Chile, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, India, even Africa, but most of these areas have or used to have Jewish enclaves. Jeff Wheelwright, Discover Magazine, 20 May 2012 But as the contrasting energies that joined the Brusteins — Jew and gentile, sophisticate and bumpkin — begin to go haywire, Isaac, otherwise deft and charming, cannot find a way to merge Sidney’s laissez-faire liberalism with his period-typical yet vile sexism. Jesse Green, New York Times, 27 Feb. 2023 The luxury farm resort was one of the first for Middle Tennessee, beckoning visitors to trade in sleepless and debaucherous nights on Broadway for a more holistic and gentile style of southern living. Jillian Dara, Robb Report, 23 Mar. 2023 In a crowded field of characters, Castelow’s Gretl comes closest to the story’s emotional core; her affair with a gentile officer (Arty Froushan) is a rare instance of desire that’s rooted in the body rather than the body politic (though its consequences have broader social resonance). Naveen Kumar, Vulture, 2 Oct. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gentile.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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.

Adjective

Middle English gentyl, gentile — more at gentle entry 1

Note: See note at gentile entry 1.

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

Dictionary Entries Near gentile

Cite this Entry

“Gentile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gentile. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

gentile

noun
gen·​tile
ˈjen-ˌtīl
1
often capitalized : a person who is not Jewish
2
: a person who does not follow the God of the Bible : heathen, pagan
3
often capitalized : a person who is not a Mormon
gentile adjective often capitalized
Etymology

Noun

Middle English gentil, gentile "one who is not Jewish," derived from Latin gentilis "a member of the same family, clan, or nation," from gent-, gens "clan, family, race"; from the fact that the early Christians used the Latin word genes, plural of gens, as a translation of the Hebrew word gōyīm, literally, "the nations," used to refer to all non-Jewish people

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