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gentrification

[jen-truh-fi-key-shuh n]
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noun
  1. the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, raising property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.
  2. the process of conforming to an upper- or middle-class lifestyle, or of making a product, activity, etc., appealing to those with more affluent tastes: the gentrification of fashion.
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Origin of gentrification

1964; coined by sociologist Ruth Glass; gentry + -fication

Word story

First coined in the 1960s by sociologist Ruth Glass, the term gentrification has proven to be important in the scholarship and popular discussion of urban development. In her 1964 book London: Aspects of Change , Glass uses gentrification to describe a shift she observed in many London neighborhoods in which middle-class people began moving into traditionally working-class areas.
She noted that once started, gentrification can progress “rapidly until all or most of the original working class occupiers are displaced, and the whole social character of the district is changed.” As gentrification spread to other cities around the world, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, the term also surged in use to describe these urban transformations.
Gentrification finds its etymological roots in the term gentry , or more specifically, landed gentry , a British social class of wealthy landowners who lived off their land by collecting rent from tenant farmers in cash or as a portion of the produce. The landowners also acted as local magistrates and as the caretakers of their tenants.
Glass observed that although the middle class were “uplifting” the status and condition of previously run-down residential areas, gentrification was not a simple issue by any means. The displacement of poorer families and small businesses and the disappearance of their local culture and history were among the problematic outcomes of gentrification from the outset, and this continues to be a major point of debate today. So much so, that among some critics of gentrification the term is viewed as a code word for the destructive removal of the poor in urban neighborhoods. In light of this cultural history, it is important to keep the various connotations attached to gentrification ’s meaning in mind when using the term.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for gentrification

gentrification

noun
  1. British a process by which middle-class people take up residence in a traditionally working-class area of a city, changing the character of the area
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Derived Formsgentrifier, noun

Word Origin

C20: from gentrify (to become gentry)
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 gentrification

n.

by 1977, noun of action from gentrify.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper