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gentle

[jen-tl]
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adjective, gen·tler, gen·tlest.
  1. kindly; amiable: a gentle manner.
  2. not severe, rough, or violent; mild: a gentle wind; a gentle tap on the shoulder.
  3. moderate: gentle heat.
  4. gradual: a gentle slope.
  5. of good birth or family; wellborn.
  6. characteristic of good birth; honorable; respectable: a gentle upbringing.
  7. easily handled or managed; tractable: a gentle animal.
  8. soft or low: a gentle sound.
  9. polite; refined: Consider, gentle reader, my terrible predicament at this juncture.
  10. entitled to a coat of arms; armigerous.
  11. Archaic. noble; chivalrous: a gentle knight.
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verb (used with object), gen·tled, gen·tling.
  1. to tame; render tractable.
  2. to mollify; calm; pacify.
  3. to make gentle.
  4. to stroke; soothe by petting.
  5. to ennoble; dignify.
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Origin of gentle

1175–1225; Middle English gentle, gentil(e) < Old French gentil highborn, noble < Latin gentīlis belonging to the same family, equivalent to gent- (stem of gēns) gens + -īlis -le
Related formsgen·tle·ness, noungen·tly, adverbo·ver·gen·tle, adjectiveo·ver·gen·tly, adverbun·gen·tle, adjectiveun·gen·tle·ness, nounun·gen·t·ly, adverb

Synonyms

See more synonyms for gentle on Thesaurus.com
1. clement, peaceful, pacific, soothing; tender, humane, lenient, merciful. Gentle, meek, mild refer to an absence of bad temper or belligerence. Gentle has reference especially to disposition and behavior, and often suggests a deliberate or voluntary kindness or forbearance in dealing with others: a gentle pat; gentle with children. Meek implies a submissive spirit, and may even indicate undue submission in the face of insult or injustice: meek and even servile or weak. Mild suggests absence of harshness or severity, rather because of natural character or temperament than conscious choice: a mild rebuke; a mild manner. 3. temperate. 5. noble. 7. manageable, docile, tame, quiet. 9. courteous; polished.

Antonyms

1. harsh, cruel. 2. violent, sudden. 7. wild, unruly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gently

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She arose, gently placed his arm on the couch, and looked upon his face.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • They gently raised him, bolstered him with pillows, and told him he had long been ill.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • Tibble saw that he was like one in another world, and gently led him away.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Aunt Jane approached a degree nearer the equator, and said, gently, "I fear I do."

    Malbone

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • "I wish it would," she said, gently, and then went on with her own thoughts while he was silent.

    Malbone

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson


British Dictionary definitions for gently

gentle

adjective
  1. having a mild or kindly nature or character
  2. soft or temperate; mild; moderatea gentle scolding
  3. graduala gentle slope
  4. easily controlled; tamea gentle horse
  5. archaic of good breeding; noblegentle blood
  6. archaic gallant; chivalrous
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verb (tr)
  1. to tame or subdue (a horse)
  2. to appease or mollify
  3. obsolete to ennoble or dignify
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noun
  1. a maggot, esp when used as bait in fishing
  2. archaic a person who is of good breeding
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Derived Formsgently, adverb

Word Origin

C13: from Old French gentil noble, from Latin gentīlis belonging to the same family; see gens
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 gently

adv.

early 14c., "befitting one of gentle rank," from gentle + -ly (2). Meaning "quietly, softly" is from 1550s.

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gentle

adj.

early 13c., "well-born," from Old French gentil "high-born, noble, of good family" (11c., in Modern French "nice, graceful, pleasing; fine pretty"), from Latin gentilis "of the same family or clan," from gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan," from root of gignere "beget," from PIE root *gen- "produce" (see genus). Sense of "gracious, kind" (now obsolete) first recorded late 13c.; that of "mild, tender" is 1550s. Older sense remains in gentleman.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper