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Borrowed from French gentil (gentile), from Latin gentīlis (of or belonging to the same people or nation), from gēns (clan; tribe; people, family) + adjective suffix -īlis (-ile). Doublet of gentle, gentile, and jaunty. See also gens, gender, genus, and generation.


  • IPA(key): /d͡ʒɛnˈtiːl/
  • (file)


genteel (comparative more genteel, superlative most genteel)

  1. Affectedly proper or refined; somewhat prudish refinement; excessively polite.
  2. Polite and well-mannered.
    • 1795, Joseph Addison, “An Essay on Card-playing”, in Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments; Tending to Amuse the Fancy, and Inculcate Morality, page 67:
      Indeed I would advise every ſingle lady, if poſſible, to attend her inamorato, pretty frequently at the card table; and however genteel and agreeable his behaviour should be to herſelf, if he is haſty or pettiſh with any one else in company, she may depend on the ſame fate when once the knot is tied.
  3. Stylish or elegant.
  4. Aristocratic.

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