Origin of gent

First recorded in 1555–65; by shortening


  1. Flemish name of Ghent.


  1. the, Informal. a men's room.

Origin of gents'

First recorded in 1920–25; see origin at gent1, -s3 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gents

Contemporary Examples of gents

  • The denim miniskirt was walking out with one of the gents, a drunk in a suit.

    The Daily Beast logo
    My Parents' Brothel

    Douglas Rogers

    December 6, 2009

Historical Examples of gents

  • You gents feed your hosses the spur and leave the thinkin' to me.

  • We said no, 'twas Booth Montague, and that he was waiting in the gents' parlor.

    Cape Cod Stories

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • If I'm bitter, gents, it's because I speaks from hard experience.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • Ye see, gents, them ar mules is used to workin' with a perfesser.

    War from the Inside

    Frederick L. (Frederick Lyman) Hitchcock

  • They never saw a pair of gents stolen before—you understand.

    The Rescue

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for gents


  1. (functioning as singular) British informal a men's public lavatory


  1. informal short for gentleman


  1. the Flemish name for Ghent
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 gents



short for gentleman, by 17c. (in early uses it is difficult to distinguish the shortening from the common abbreviation gent.). "Early in the nineteenth century the word was colloquial and slightly jocular; about 1840 its use came to be regarded as a mark of low breeding" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper