gen·​tle | \ˈjen-tᵊl \
gentler\ˈjent-​lər, -​tᵊl-​ər \; gentlest\ˈjent-​ləst, -​tᵊl-​əst \

Definition of gentle 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : belonging to a family of high social station

b archaic : chivalrous

c : honorable, distinguished specifically : of or relating to a gentleman

d : kind, amiable used especially in address as a complimentary epithet gentle reader

e : suited to a person of high social station the gentle art of sophisticated conversation

2a : tractable, docile a gentle horse

b : free from harshness, sternness, or violence used gentle persuasion

3 : soft, delicate the gentle touch of her hand

4 : moderate His doctor recommended gentle exercise.



Definition of gentle (Entry 2 of 3)

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


gentled; gentling\ˈjent-​liŋ, ˈjen-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of gentle (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to raise from the commonalty : ennoble

2a : to make gentler

b : to make (an animal) tame and docile

c : mollify, placate gentled the raging king

d : to stroke soothingly : pet

intransitive verb

: to become gentle the wind gentled

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Other Words from gentle


gently \ˈjent-​lē \ adverb

Examples of gentle in a Sentence


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.


the archbishop treated both the gentles and the commoners with respect and kindness


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Barose suggests clients look for primer formulas that feel gentle on skin and aren't not too drying or mattifying, as those can sometimes make skin look drier. Karina Hoshikawa, Allure, "How to Apply Foundation to Mature Skin, According to Makeup Artists," 25 Oct. 2018 This sounds like a cliché, but much of the truth about what’s happening in Wind Gap is masquerading behind platitudes — like the idea that the women are all talk, too gentle and passive for murder. Aja Romano, Vox, "In Sharp Objects, secrets are the sharpest weapons of all," 30 July 2018 Bill was a kind, gentle and giving person who would do anything for anyone., "William E. Flynn," 29 June 2018 The pleasure of touching a flip-sequin product is the pleasure of restoring chaos without effort; even the most disjointed image can quickly return to its orderly form with just a gentle brush of the hand. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "Flip sequins are the weird, glitzy fabric that kids can’t get enough of," 27 Nov. 2018 Use a gentle hand People with rosacea, and especially those with severe forms, have inherently sensitive skin that's easily triggered by factors such as food, temperature, stress, and more. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "How to Wear Blush If You Have Rosacea," 6 Sep. 2018 Gone are the days where yoga was synonymous with only gentle stretching. Chloe Kernaghan, Time, "This 10-Minute Cardio Yoga Workout Will Help Make You More Flexible," 10 July 2018 Depending on its context, imho can function as a gentle nudge or a punch in the gut. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The 'H' In IMHO Does Not Mean Humble or Honest," 2 May 2018 That would require intervention instead of gentle technocratic nudges. David Dayen, The New Republic, "The Democrats’ Rural Voter Problem (and How to Fix It)," 20 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Coconut milk gentles the green-chile heat in the thick, creamy sauce. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "Spread the word about the great South Indian flavors at Kathakali in Kirkland," 10 Aug. 2017 The dog, described as gassy but gentle, spent much of its time on stage plopped on its side. Joy Johnston, ajc, "Mastiff named Martha crowned world's ugliest dog," 24 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In this six-week program, veterans have the opportunity to gentle wild mustangs. Sheila Vilvens,, "The join up: When veterans and wild horses build trust with each other," 22 Feb. 2018 Fawcett said the mustangs can be gentled into outstanding pleasure riding horses. Lynne Terry,, "Oregon Sunday lottery: Pick 4, Lucky Lines numbers drawn," 7 Jan. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of gentle


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined above


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

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

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Statistics for gentle

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gentle

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

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More Definitions for gentle



English Language Learners Definition of gentle

: having or showing a kind and quiet nature : not harsh or violent

: not hard or forceful

: not strong or harsh in effect or quality


gen·​tle | \ˈjen-tᵊl \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gentle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gentle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gentle

Spanish Central: Translation of gentle

Nglish: Translation of gentle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gentle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on gentle

What made you want to look up gentle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

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