gen·​try | \ ˈjen-trē How to pronounce gentry (audio) \
plural gentries

Definition of gentry

1a : upper or ruling class : aristocracy
b : a class whose members are entitled to bear a coat of arms though not of noble rank especially : wealthy landowners having such status
2 : people of a specified class or kind : folks no real heroes or heroines among the academic gentry— R. G. Hanvey
3a : the condition or rank of a gentleman
b obsolete : the qualities appropriate to a person of gentle (see gentle entry 1 sense 4a) birth especially : courtesy

Examples of gentry in a Sentence

poor tenant farmers working for landed gentry the old-line yachting gentry frowns on vulgar displays of wealth
Recent Examples on the Web John Betteridge was a silversmith who made snuff boxes and match holders for the English gentry. Paige Reddinger, Robb Report, 9 Nov. 2021 In the nineteenth century, that image was crystallized in the bearded figure of Leo Tolstoy, who spoke out against the greed and corruption of the Russian gentry and the war in Japan. Jennifer Wilson, Harper’s Magazine , 25 May 2022 The Pew poll underscores that the gentry left’s preoccupation with dividing America by race is unpopular. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 28 Apr. 2022 Lister, who was born in West Yorkshire and lived during the height of the Industrial Revolution, was a member of the rural gentry who leaped over her father, the heir apparent, to run her family’s modest estate. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 One depicted a climb from peasants through merchants, landed gentry, and aristocrats. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 After industrialization, the old gentry tended to marry the ownership class and disengage from feudal bonds. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 The war on To Kill a Mockingbird is, of course, a left-wing impulse; in generations to come, the book is likely to be seen as increasingly embarrassing by the gentry liberals who have always been its champions. Kyle Smith, National Review, 8 Feb. 2022 In Europe, exotic animal collections were often displayed in garden settings for the amusement of the gentry, and by the late 18th century, for the general public as well. Michael J. Renner, The Conversation, 4 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of gentry

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

History and Etymology for gentry

Middle English gentrie "high birth or rank, properties ideally characteristic of those of high birth, the wellborn collectively," borrowed from Anglo-French genterie "high birth," from gent "of aristocratic birth" + -erie -ery — more at gent entry 1

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

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Last Updated

25 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gentry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for gentry


gen·​try | \ ˈjen-trē How to pronounce gentry (audio) \

Kids Definition of gentry

: people of high social status

More from Merriam-Webster on gentry

Nglish: Translation of gentry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gentry for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gentry


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