- belonging or suited to polite society.
- well-bred or refined; polite; elegant; stylish.
- affectedly or pretentiously polite, delicate, etc.
Origin of genteel
Examples from the Web for genteel
These nonchalant brutalities seem at first at odds with the genteel decorum that mostly cloaks late-19th century culture.The Magazine That Made—and Unmade—Politicians
November 2, 2014
This racial balancing act makes Belle one of the most genteel yet uncomfortable depictions of racism ever to grace the screen.Can ‘Belle’ End Hollywood’s Obsession with the White Savior?
May 4, 2014
The Daily Pic: Steve Mumford's genteel watercolors capture the hard truths of Gitmo.A Guantanamo Idyll
October 22, 2013
Mischievous, more bite than bark in the sense that it was mordant with minimal rhetoric, Heaney was not genteel.Robert Pinsky: The Comedy of Seamus Heaney
October 1, 2013
Bennett is genteel, an elite solider, someone who is as comfortable with secularism as he is with his religiosity.Why I Like Naftali Bennett
January 17, 2013
Their conversation, though no doubt as genteel as before, was all of broken hearts.Quaint Courtships
He chose the most genteel, however; he became a wine merchant.Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)
It was the host's profound misfortune to have been overcome by that too genteel lady.Little Dorrit
Every one seemed to think it wouldn't be genteel to eat after the disaster.One Of Them
Charles James Lever
There are many boys of genteel family, who would have been glad of the chance.Paul Prescott's Charge
- affectedly proper or refined; excessively polite
- respectable, polite, and well-breda genteel old lady
- appropriate to polite or fashionable societygenteel behaviour
Word Origin and History for genteel
1590s, from Middle French gentil "stylish, fashionable, elegant; nice, graceful, pleasing," from Old French gentil "high-born, noble" (11c.); a reborrowing of the French word that had early come into English as gentle (q.v.), with French pronunciation and stress preserved to emphasize the distinction. Cf. also jaunty; gentile. OED 2nd ed. reports genteel "is now used, except by the ignorant, only in mockery" (a development it dates from the 1840s).