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

Walt was a quiet, kind, and gentle husband, father, and grandfather. Hartford Courant,, "Walter L. Gordy," 17 June 2018 Fred Rogers was a kind and gentle man who saw children as important, his work as ministry, and kindness as essential to human existence. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor feels radically subversive," 7 June 2018 Brown has taught first grade at Mary Woodward Elementary since 2007 and is hailed as patient, gentle and kind. Betsy Hammond,, "Tigard, West Linn, Gresham teachers win regional top educator honors," 4 June 2018 Talented, gentle, kind and always smiling Ki was not only a visual artist, but a performance artist as well. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Parolee arrested in November killing of Philly art student," 13 Apr. 2018 That allowed the Cowboys to give kind and gentle treatment to fellows like Greg Hardy and Ezekiel Elliot and take a hard line against America’s real problem: Players who kneel during the national anthem. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Sunday Punch: How Stephen Curry could change the NFL," 24 Mar. 2018 Facing a skeptical Congress, Fred Rogers (a Peabody award winner) testified to save PBS, explaining how the show provided children with gentle, less violent content than the cartoons of the time. NBC News, "4 life lessons we learned from Mr. Rogers that are especially relevant today," 22 May 2018 Aside from providing a gentler, more sanitary cleansing alternative to washcloths and brush heads (neither of which dry as easily), muslin cloths are also great at loosening stuck-on face masks. Sophie Wirt, Allure, "The 6 Best Muslin Cloths for Exfoliating Your Face, According to Derms," 17 Apr. 2018 The Newington Parks and Recreation Department is offering a variety of yoga classes for adults this spring, including beginner, gentle, well-being and mixed levels. Courant Community, "Community News For The Wethersfield Edition," 17 Apr. 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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Phrases Related to gentle

gentle giant

let (someone) down easy/gently

Statistics for gentle

Last Updated

22 Sep 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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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).


one that holds something together

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