1. belonging or suited to polite society.
  2. well-bred or refined; polite; elegant; stylish.
  3. affectedly or pretentiously polite, delicate, etc.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for genteelly

Historical Examples of genteelly

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


    Julian Hawthorne

  • It's the only one I've got, but I'm goin' to spend it 'spectably and genteelly.


    B. L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon

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

    Rich Relatives

    Compton Mackenzie

  • He was genteelly dressed in black, and perfect composure marked his countenance and manner.

  • Six of the hats, says the quaint contemporary account, were laced with gold,—all of these prisoners having been genteelly dressed.

    Haunted London

    Walter Thornbury

British Dictionary definitions for genteelly


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