adjective (sometimes initial capital letter)


Origin of gentile

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin gentīlis, equivalent to gent-, stem of gēns gens + -īlis -ile
Related formsnon·gen·tile, adjective, nounpro-Gen·tile, adjective, nounun·gen·tile, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for gentile

agnostic, unbeliever, heretic, atheist, heathen, pagan

British Dictionary definitions for gentile



denoting an adjective or proper noun used to designate a place or the inhabitants of a place, as Spanish and Spaniard
of or relating to a tribe or people

Word Origin for gentile

C14: from Late Latin gentīlis, from Latin: one belonging to the same tribe or family; see gens




a person who is not a Jew
a Christian, as contrasted with a Jew
a person who is not a member of one's own church: used esp by Mormons
a heathen or pagan


of or relating to a race or religion that is not Jewish
Christian, as contrasted with Jewish
not being a member of one's own church: used esp by Mormons
pagan or heathen




Giovanni (dʒoˈvanni). 1875–1944, Italian Idealist philosopher and Fascist politician: minister of education (1922–24)
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 gentile

mid-13c., "noble, kind, gracious" (mid-12c. as a surname); late 14c., "of noble rank or birth, belonging to the gentry," from Late Latin gentilis "foreign, heathen, pagan," from Latin gentilis "person belonging to the same family, fellow countryman," from gentilis (adj.) "of the same family or clan," from gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan" (see gentle).


late 14c., "chivalrous person; member of the nobility;" see gentile (adj.). Also used during 14c. to mean both "one who is not a Christian" and "one who is not a Jew." The Latin word was used in Vulgate to translate Greek ethnikos, from ta ethne "the nations," which translated Hebrew ha goyim "the (non-Jewish) nations."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gentile in Culture


Someone who is not a Jew (see also Jews). “The nations” is the common expression in the Old Testament for non-Jews as a group, and a Gentile is a person belonging to “the nations.”


Both the Old Testament and the New Testament tell of numerous conflicts between Jews and Gentiles. Figuratively, a “gentile” is any nonbeliever.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.