gen·​til·​i·​ty | \jen-ˈti-lə-tē \
plural gentilities

Definition of gentility 

1a : the condition of belonging to the gentry

b : gentlefolk, gentry

2a(1) : decorum of conduct : courtesy

(2) : attitudes or activity marked by false delicacy, prudery, or affectation

b : superior social status or prestige evidenced by manners, possessions, or mode of life

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Examples of gentility in a Sentence

Education was considered a mark of gentility. was full of the same gentility and grace that marked the rest of the family

Recent Examples on the Web

Here are nine post-millennial baddies whose wickedness is often cut with bits of decency, victimization, or gentility. Matthew Gilbert,, "The best villains on TV," 6 July 2018 After all, Southern gentility, hospitality, and good manners are as central to a Southerner’s identity as sipping a glass of sweet tea on a hot day. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, "Southern Traditions We Want to Bring Back–And You Will Too!," 7 June 2018 But his throwback wardrobe was a relic of Southern gentility that set him apart as an observer rather than participant in the follies of his time. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88," 15 May 2018 The neighborhood, once a bastion of black gentility, was beginning its decades-long descent into gangs, drugs, no jobs and bad schools. Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, "New York City Would Really Rather Not Talk About Its Slavery-Loving Past," 15 Apr. 2015 Whether Lucy or Alice is narrating, Mangan’s diction has the archaic gentility of someone incorrectly imagining how previous generations thought and spoke. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "“Tangerine”: A Début Novel That Delights in Excess," 24 Mar. 2018 Despite bustling summer crowds and a soothing ocean soundscape, the Hamptons can sometimes seem more like an exercise in competitive gentility than a vacation. Wsj Real Estate, WSJ, "Going Up? Incline Elevators Help Hillside Homeowners," 10 Aug. 2017 There wasn’t really much in the way of gentility, of course, but the passion and fire of the playing rendered that unnecessary. Gary Graff, Billboard, "The Texas Gentlemen Hold Their Own With Homegrown 'Tx Jelly' at SXSW," 17 Mar. 2018 These moderates preferred to encourage a kind of restrained gentility that would, in time, become the parlor rectitude of Victorian America. Keith Stavely And Kathleen Fitzgerald, Smithsonian, "What America’s First Cookbook Says About Our Country and Its Cuisine," 12 Jan. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for gentility

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

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More Definitions for gentility



English Language Learners Definition of gentility

: high social status

: a quietly appealing and polite quality or manner : a genteel quality or manner


gen·​til·​i·​ty | \jen-ˈti-lə-tē \

Kids Definition of gentility

1 : high social status

2 : a quality of elegance and politeness It was totally unlike them, this lapse from gentility— Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

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More from Merriam-Webster on gentility

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gentility

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gentility

Spanish Central: Translation of gentility

Nglish: Translation of gentility for Spanish Speakers

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to enclose within walls

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