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See more synonyms for genteel on Thesaurus.com
  1. belonging or suited to polite society.
  2. well-bred or refined; polite; elegant; stylish.
  3. affectedly or pretentiously polite, delicate, etc.
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Origin of genteel

1590–1600; < French gentil; see gentle
Related formsgen·teel·ly, adverbgen·teel·ness, nounpseu·do·gen·teel, adjectivequa·si-gen·teel, adjectivequa·si-gen·teel·ly, adverbun·gen·teel, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for genteel

noble, ostentatious, polite, elegant, aristocratic, stylish, refined, affected, artificial, chivalrous, civil, confined, courteous, courtly, fashionable, formal, graceful, hollow, intolerant, mannerly

Examples from the Web for genteel

Contemporary Examples of genteel

Historical Examples of genteel

  • Their conversation, though no doubt as genteel as before, was all of broken hearts.

  • He chose the most genteel, however; he became a wine merchant.

  • It was the host's profound misfortune to have been overcome by that too genteel lady.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for genteel


  1. affectedly proper or refined; excessively polite
  2. respectable, polite, and well-breda genteel old lady
  3. appropriate to polite or fashionable societygenteel behaviour
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Derived Formsgenteelly, adverbgenteelness, noun

Word Origin for genteel

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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper