gen·​try | \ˈjen-trē \
plural gentries

Definition of gentry 

1a obsolete : the qualities appropriate to a person of gentle (see gentle entry 1 sense 1a) birth especially : courtesy

b : the condition or rank of a gentleman

2a : 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

3 : people of a specified class or kind : folks no real heroes or heroines among the academic gentry— R. G. Hanvey

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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

Unlike a militiaman or an officer drawn from the gentry, who shared the ethos of the larger society, professionals were a breed apart whose foremost loyalty to the military caste made them a threat to liberty. William Anthony Hay, WSJ, "‘The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold’ and ‘Turncoat’ Review: His Own Worst Enemy," 24 May 2018 The local gentry would marshal the peasants, laborers and tribesmen into polls that would choose each Parliament. Reuel Marc Gerecht And, WSJ, "Don’t Fear Regime Change in Iran," 11 June 2018 And the twins did seem determined to be identified as Southern gentry. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "‘Inseparable’ Finds Pride, Indignity and Irony in the Lives of Siamese Twins Chang and Eng," 4 Apr. 2018 Though there were definite Austro-Hungarian accents (coats of arms, suits of armor, and a kachelofen, a ceramic Austrian stove), Parnham was also very landed gentry British. David Usborne, Town & Country, "The Mysterious Case of the Parnham House Fire," 29 May 2018 William Francis Truefitt started out as court wig maker to King George III, before setting up shop in 1805 to offer luxury barbery services (first wig-making and styling — a time-consuming affair), and later, haircuts to London’s gentry. Amy Tara Koch, New York Times, "A Road Map to Shopping Like a Royal in London," 9 May 2018 Yet the distrust between the factions was made toxic by class snobbery and hatred, since the Woodvilles were a mere gentry family. Andrew Roberts, WSJ, "‘Richard III’ Review: The Villain Wore a Crown," 30 Apr. 2018 His mother hailed from Christian gentry and had been active in the anti-German resistance, helping a Jewish man — Gross’s future father — to survive in hiding. Washington Post, "Scholar who triggered Holocaust debate mulls new Polish law," 28 Mar. 2018 The shimmering black-and-white cinematography by Mart Taniel tracks the connections among a village's wolves and witches, landed gentry and scrabbling farmers. Sheri Linden,, "Estonian fantasy 'November' finds light in the darkness," 1 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of gentry

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

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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gen·​try | \ˈjen-trē \

Kids Definition of gentry

: people of high social status

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Comments on gentry

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a private place of worship

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