from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality of being well-mannered; refinement.
  • n. The condition of being born to the gentry.
  • n. Persons of high social standing considered as a group.
  • n. An attempt to convey or maintain the appearance of refinement and elegance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being elegant, genteel, having good breeding, or being socially superior.
  • n. The upper classes, the gentry.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Good extraction; dignity of birth.
  • n. The quality or qualities appropriate to those who are well born, as self-respect, dignity, courage, courtesy, politeness of manner, a graceful and easy mien and behavior, etc.; good breeding.
  • n. The class in society who are, or are expected to be, genteel; the gentry.
  • n. Paganism; heathenism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The quality or state of belonging to a certain gens, clan, or family; gentile relationship or stock.
  • n. Noble or gentle birth.
  • n. People of good birth; gentry.
  • n. Gentile character; paganism; heathenism.
  • n. The quality or state of being genteel; condition, appearance, or manner characteristic of polite society; genteel behavior; fashionableness; stylishness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. elegance by virtue of fineness of manner and expression


Middle English gentilete, nobility of birth, from Old French, from Latin gentīlitās, from gentīlis, of the same clan; see gentle.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • I said that my country-folk in general had a great many admirable qualities, but at the same time a great many foibles, foremost amongst which last was a crazy admiration for what they called gentility, which made them sycophantic to their superiors in station, and extremely insolent to those whom they considered below them.

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  • The generality of his countrymen are far more careful not to transgress the customs of what they call gentility, than to violate the laws of honour or morality.


  • The generality of his countrymen are far more careful not to transgress the customs of what they call gentility than to violate the laws of honour or morality.

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  • As Maryjean Wall relates in "How Kentucky Became Southern," the state's familiar gentility is largely invented — and relatively recently at that.

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  • I'm the sort of person who publishes my opinion on the internet ... you can't expect much in the way of gentility from the likes of me.

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  • I say "gentility" -- but that is not exactly the word; for there is not the remotest trace of snobbishness in Henry James.

    Suspended Judgments Essays on Books and Sensations

  • It is because the indefinable, but to those who can perceive it unmistakable, _aura_ of "gentility" -- in the true and not the debased sense -- is, at best, questionably present.

    A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2 To the Close of the 19th Century

  • Social intercourse disseminated these ideas among those to whom they were novel; where, previously, the highest motive to improvement had been a desire for convenience, the idea of gentility began to claim an influence; and some of the more moderate embellishments of life assumed the place of the mere necessaries.

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  • To belong to this class when you were at the £400 a year level was a queer business, for it meant that your gentility was almost purely theoretical.

    The Road to Wigan Pier

  • But our gentility is a little self-conscious, for we live on the very frontier of a region, darker in complexion, which is far from scrupulous in deportment.



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