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gen·​tle ˈjen-tᵊl How to pronounce gentle (audio)
gentler ˈjent-lər How to pronounce gentle (audio)
; gentlest ˈjent-ləst How to pronounce gentle (audio)
: free from harshness, sternness, or violence
used gentle persuasion
: tractable, docile
a gentle horse
: soft, delicate
the gentle touch of her hand
: moderate
His doctor recommended gentle exercise.
: belonging to a family of high social station
: honorable, distinguished
specifically : of or relating to a gentleman
: kind, amiable
used especially in address as a complimentary epithet
gentle reader
: suited to a person of high social station
the gentle art of sophisticated conversation
archaic : chivalrous
gently adverb


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: a person of gentle (see gentle entry 1 sense 4a) birth or status


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gentled; gentling ˈjent-liŋ How to pronounce gentle (audio)

transitive verb

: to make (an animal) tame and docile
: to make gentler
: mollify, placate
gentled the raging king
: to stroke soothingly : pet
: to raise from the commonalty : ennoble

intransitive verb

: to become gentle
the wind gentled

Examples of gentle in a Sentence

Adjective a dog that is gentle with children Your mother has a gentle manner. a gentle sense of humor I heard a gentle knock at the door. It's a delicate problem that requires gentle handling. The job requires a gentle touch. The cold snap was a gentle reminder that winter was coming. Noun the archbishop treated both the gentles and the commoners with respect and kindness Verb employees soon learned that their hot-tempered boss needed to be gentled several times a day soothingly gentled his cat's head as she was being treated by the vet
Recent Examples on the Web
Use a conductive serum first and then begin to glide the tool in gentle motions. Alyssa Grabinski, Peoplemag, 19 Apr. 2024 It’s also prompted discourse about how the dreamy, gentle Ben, a 6’1″ political magazine editor with a Tweety bird tattoo and a penchant for Rilke, is basically the ideal man. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 18 Apr. 2024 Von Kampen, 29, crafts gentle, introspective songs that showcase her dulcet voice. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Apr. 2024 There’s a gentle curve to the bridge at the front of the frames and what almost looks like horseshoes on the hinges that connect the temples to the lenses. Dave Schilling, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2024 The gentle sound of this wind chime comes from the glass colliding whenever there is a strong breeze. Nor'adila Hepburn, Southern Living, 17 Apr. 2024 Their texture changes based on water temperature, staying firm in cold water for deep scrubbing and becoming soft in warm water for gentle wiping. Jenna Ryu, SELF, 17 Apr. 2024 With gentle pressure, the oscillation did cover my teeth well from top to bottom. PCMAG, 16 Apr. 2024 In addition to finding a shampoo routine that works for you, experts recommend gentle brushing, avoiding heat, and other tips to keep hair healthy. Alyssa Hui, Health, 16 Apr. 2024
This gentle for your skin option features collagen, and other ingredients known to help lock in moisture in your skin for reduced risk of eczema breakouts. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 14 Jan. 2024 Glock’s music is historically not a statement of record for the sheepish and the gentle. Jayson Buford, Rolling Stone, 15 May 2023 Coconut milk gentles the green-chile heat in the thick, creamy sauce. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, 10 Aug. 2017 The dog, described as gassy but gentle, spent much of its time on stage plopped on its side. Joy Johnston, ajc, 24 June 2017
Lee: Agreed—and there are even more of those contrivances popping up around how the One Power seems to function, especially around stilling and gentling and shielding. Andrew Cunningham & Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, 29 Sep. 2023 He would've been gentled by the Seanchan and killed by Ishamael (Fares Fares). Christian Holub,, 6 Oct. 2023 Not only can gentle strains of honey bees -- if the bees are properly located and carefully managed -- be maintained within populated areas without causing a nuisance, but a resident having an apiary will not increase the number of bees in a neighboring yard. John Benson, cleveland, 24 Mar. 2022 While a traditional blow dryer pushes air out and causes frizz, a diffuser will just gentle dry hair without any friction. Tatjana Freund, ELLE, 28 July 2022 Rand greets them with trepidation, pulling his sword out for fear Moiraine will gentle his friend. Randall Colburn,, 10 Dec. 2021 The color fades to gentle black as night makes its entrance. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2021 From ethereal blues to gentle yellows to feminine pink hues, the spring/summer 2021 runways are leaning into the power of color theory. Sara Holzman, Marie Claire, 13 Apr. 2021 In this six-week program, veterans have the opportunity to gentle wild mustangs. Sheila Vilvens,, 22 Feb. 2018

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

Word History



Middle English gentyl "of aristocratic birth, exhibiting ideal characteristics of the wellborn, of excellent quality, gracious, courteous, kind," borrowed from Anglo-French gentil, borrowed from Medieval Latin gentīlis "of oneʼs own house, of good family or breeding, native, of a non-Jewish nation or faith, not Christian, pagan," going back to Latin "of a Roman gens, of oneʼs own family or tribe, native," from gent-, gens "race, people, gens" + -īlis, suffix of affiliation


Middle English gentil (usually plural), borrowed from Anglo-French, derivative of gentil "of aristocratic birth, gentle entry 1"


Middle English gentylen, derivative of gentyl gentle entry 1

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1532, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of gentle was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near gentle

Cite this Entry

“Gentle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
; gentlest
: belonging or suitable to a family of high social rank
: easily handled : docile
a gentle horse
: not harsh : mild
gentle soap
: not stern or rough
gentle words
: soft entry 1 sense 1, soothing
a gentle murmur
: moderate entry 1 sense 2a
gentle slopes
gentleness noun


2 of 2 verb
gentled; gentling
: to make gentle or mild
: to make calmer : soothe

More from Merriam-Webster on gentle

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