[jen-tl-muh n]
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noun, plural gen·tle·men.
  1. a man of good family, breeding, or social position.
  2. (used as a polite term) a man: Do you know that gentleman over there?
  3. gentlemen, (used as a form of address): Gentlemen, please come this way.
  4. a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man: He behaved like a true gentleman.
  5. a male personal servant, especially of a man of social position; valet.
  6. a male attendant upon a king, queen, or other royal person, who is himself of high birth or rank.
  7. a man of good social standing, as a noble or an armigerous commoner.
  8. a man with an independent income who does not work for a living.
  9. a male member of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.
  10. History/Historical. a man who is above the rank of yeoman.

Origin of gentleman

Middle English word dating back to 1225–75; see origin at gentle, man1
Related formsgen·tle·man·like, adjectiveun·der·gen·tle·man, noun, plural un·der·gen·tle·men.un·gen·tle·man·like, adjective

Synonyms for gentleman

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4. See man1.

Usage note

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

Related Words for gentleman

aristocrat, nobleman, sir, don, cavalier, patrician, lord

Examples from the Web for gentleman

Contemporary Examples of gentleman

Historical Examples of gentleman

British Dictionary definitions for gentleman


noun plural -men
  1. a man regarded as having qualities of refinement associated with a good family
  2. a man who is cultured, courteous, and well-educated
  3. a polite name for a man
  4. the personal servant of a gentleman (esp in the phrase gentleman's gentleman)
  5. British history a man of gentle birth, who was entitled to bear arms, ranking above a yeoman in social position
  6. (formerly) a smuggler
Derived Formsgentlemanly, adjectivegentlemanliness, noun
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 gentleman

"well-born man," early 13c., from gentle + man.

The Gentleman is always truthful and sincere; will not agree for the sake of complaisance or out of weakness ; will not pass over that of which he disapproves. He has a clear soul, and a fearless, straightforward tongue. On the other hand he is not blunt and rude. His truth is courteous; his courtesy, truthful; never a humbug, yet, where he truthfully can, he prefers to say pleasant things. [J.R. Vernon, "Contemporary Review," 1869]

Related: Gentlemen. Gentleman's agreement is first attested 1929. Gentleman farmer recorded from 1749.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper