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From Middle English gentilly, gentlych, gentilliche, equivalent to gentle +‎ -ly, with *-lely simplified to -ly by haplology.


  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒɛntli/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: gen‧tly


gently (comparative gentlier or more gently, superlative gentliest or most gently)

  1. In a manner characterized by gentleness
    1. Without strong force or quickness: softly, lightly.
      • 2012 May 8, Yotam Ottolenghi; Sami Tamimi, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook[1], Random House, →ISBN, page 79:
        First, marinate the tofu. In a bowl, whisk the kecap manis, chilli sauce, and sesame oil together. Cut the tofu into strips about 1cm thick, mix gently (so it doesn't break) with the marinade and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
    2. In a gentle manner; to a gentle degree.
      • 1946 July and August, K. Westcott Jones, “Isle of Wight Central Railway—2”, in Railway Magazine, page 243:
        From Blackwater there is a more or less level run through gently rolling farmlands and downs to Merstone, with its island platform and passing loop.
    3. Quietly: without much noise or motion.
      • 1968, George Harrison (lyrics and music), “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, performed by The Beatles:
        I look at the world, and I notice it's turning / While my guitar gently weeps / With every mistake, we must surely be learning / Still my guitar gently weeps
  2. (historical) From a gentle or high-class family.
    gently born
  3. (obsolete) In the manner of one of gentle birth; in a manner that reflects the traditional virtues of the gentry: courteously, nobly.


Derived terms[edit]