gen·​til·​i·​ty | \ jen-ˈti-lə-tē How to pronounce gentility (audio) \
plural gentilities

Definition of gentility

1a : the condition of belonging to the 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 Margaret is the picture of gentility, yet her dagger drips with stony blood. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 28 May 2021 This idyll was founded on an illusion of white gentility. Michael Lapointe, The New Yorker, 20 May 2021 There was already that happening during the Obama years — not so much under George W. Bush, who now seems like some kind of paragon of old-world gentility. Tessa Stuart, Rolling Stone, 19 May 2021 The opposing drives toward gentility and aggression make a continuous narrative impossible, forcing him to dissociate at the critical moment. Benjamin Nugent, Harper's Magazine, 27 Apr. 2021 Yet despite this emphasis on gentility, the all-wheel drive and precise, nicely weighted steering help give the Ghost a feeling of real agility, while the addition of rear-wheel-steering adds nimbleness at speed and tighter turning in town. Howard Walker, Robb Report, 9 Mar. 2021 But this veneer of gentility has always masked ugly truths. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2020 The contrasts between the first Mrs. de Winter and the second are emphasized throughout: the second, gentle, fair, and meek; the first, dark-haired and dramatic, with a cold gentility that endeared her to Danvers over the years. Rachel Krause,, 21 Oct. 2020 This is a publication that selects for a certain mode of gentility and then further polices how its writers are permitted to express themselves. David Klion, The New Republic, 20 Oct. 2020

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

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

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Statistics for gentility

Last Updated

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gentility.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce gentility (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on gentility

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gentility

Nglish: Translation of gentility for Spanish Speakers


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