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[jen-teel] /dʒɛnˈtil/
belonging or suited to polite society.
well-bred or refined; polite; elegant; stylish.
affectedly or pretentiously polite, delicate, etc.
Origin of genteel
1590-1600; < French gentil; see gentle
Related forms
genteelly, adverb
genteelness, noun
pseudogenteel, adjective
quasi-genteel, adjective
quasi-genteelly, adverb
ungenteel, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for genteelly
Historical Examples
  • Was there ever anything so genteelly turned—so terse—so sharp—and the point so stinging and so true?

  • It is the most difficult of all languages to be wicked in—genteelly wicked, at least.

    Dust Julian Hawthorne
  • In those days it was respectable to be genteelly poor, and starve rather than work and live on the fat of the land.

  • "Poor old Spot," she murmured, disengaging her lips from a cobweb as genteelly as possible.

    Rich Relatives Compton Mackenzie
  • What they may do hereafter, under a triple tree, is much expected; but they live very civilly and genteelly among us.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • She places herself at the table after what she conceives to be the manner of the genteelly gluttonous; then she quakes a little.

    Alice Sit-By-The-Fire J. M. Barrie
  • It's the only one I've got, but I'm goin' to spend it 'spectably and genteelly.

    Grif B. L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
  • The fellows in the smock frocks threw off their disguises, and proved to be two genteelly dressed waiters from one of the inns.

    The English Spy Bernard Blackmantle
  • He was a good-looking young man, apparently about five and twenty, genteelly dressed, with a Montero cap on his head.

    The Bible in Spain George Borrow
  • “If the claim goes through, the De Willoughby family will be very wealthy,” she said, genteelly.

British Dictionary definitions for genteelly


affectedly proper or refined; excessively polite
respectable, polite, and well-bred: a genteel old lady
appropriate to polite or fashionable society: genteel behaviour
Derived Forms
genteelly, adverb
genteelness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from French gentil well-born; see gentle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for genteelly



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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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