gen·​tle | \ ˈjen-tᵊl How to pronounce gentle (audio) \
gentler\ ˈjent-​lər How to pronounce gentle (audio) , -​tᵊl-​ər \; gentlest\ ˈjent-​ləst How to pronounce gentle (audio) , -​tᵊl-​əst \

Definition of gentle

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : free from harshness, sternness, or violence used gentle persuasion
b : tractable, docile a gentle horse
2 : soft, delicate the gentle touch of her hand
3 : moderate His doctor recommended gentle exercise.
4a : belonging to a family of high social station
b : honorable, distinguished specifically : of or relating to a gentleman
c : kind, amiable used especially in address as a complimentary epithet gentle reader
d : suited to a person of high social station the gentle art of sophisticated conversation
e archaic : chivalrous



Definition of gentle (Entry 2 of 3)

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


gentled; gentling\ ˈjent-​liŋ How to pronounce gentle (audio) , ˈjen-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of gentle (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to make (an animal) tame and docile
b : to make gentler
c : mollify, placate gentled the raging king
d : to stroke soothingly : pet
2 : to raise from the commonalty : ennoble

intransitive verb

: to become gentle the wind gentled

Other Words from gentle


gently \ ˈjent-​lē How to pronounce gentle (audio) \ adverb

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The gentle giant also won admirers by coming to the defense of younger classmates who were bullied and constantly checking in with teammates about their welfare. Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2022 Just be gentle when brushing, as fine hair can be more prone to breakage. Jamie Wilson, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 July 2022 The editor- and consumer-loved brush is designed to be gentle on knots for less breakage and is ergonomically designed to fit your palm. Catharine Malzahn, Good Housekeeping, 26 July 2022 In general, the key to doing this safely is to be gentle. Julie Stewart, Men's Health, 26 July 2022 The product is gentle on your dog’s body and causes no severe side effects. Laxmi Corp, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 July 2022 Be gentle with yourself, even when other people won't. Chicago Tribune, 6 July 2022 At 6-foot-4, Culpepper stands out as a gentle giant, pausing to share his time. Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel, 18 June 2022 The gentle reptilian giant originated from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, but made the move to the Atlantic as a gift to a future governor of St. Helena in 1882. Richard Stenger, CNN, 10 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Fawcett said the mustangs can be gentled into outstanding pleasure riding horses. Lynne Terry,, 7 Jan. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gentle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of gentle


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

History and Etymology for gentle


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

Learn More About gentle

Time Traveler for gentle

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near gentle




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for gentle

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gentle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for gentle


gen·​tle | \ ˈjen-tᵊl How to pronounce gentle (audio) \
gentler; gentlest

Kids Definition of gentle

1 : having or showing a kind and quiet nature : not harsh, stern, or violent He was a large but gentle man.
2 : not hard or forceful a gentle wind
3 : not strong or harsh in quality or effect a gentle soap
4 : not steep or sharp gentle hills

Other Words from gentle

gentleness \ ˈjen-​tᵊl-​nəs \ noun
gently \ ˈjent-​lē \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on gentle

Nglish: Translation of gentle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gentle for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!