One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Polite, refined, or respectable, often in an affected or ostentatious way.
refined, respectable, polished, decorous, proper, polite, correct, seemly, well mannered, well bred, cultivated, cultured, sophisticated, courteous, ladylike, gentlemanly, civil, elegant, stylish, urbane, civilized, courtly, dignified, gracious, punctiliousView synonyms
- ‘By day, as a student living with his genteel hosts, he cultivates the persona of a bookish young man given to headaches and dizzy spells.’
- ‘It was a genteel game then for gentlemen, nurtured in a corner of the globe on the village greens of Henley and Marlow.’
- ‘She is, of course, far too graceful, genteel to be so vulgar as to do so.’
- ‘Such was the genteel corporate culture of the time that employees were encouraged to take a rest after lunch.’
- ‘In contrast Harriet's family represents the fading genteel elegance of the old South.’
- ‘Joséphine's upper lip wrinkles with almost genteel scorn when asked about her circumstances.’
- ‘Let us not mince words, culling is a genteel word for killing, in fact for sheer bloody carnage, such as you propose.’
- ‘The couple now live in the genteel English coastal enclave of Hove, sister town to Brighton, with their twin sons.’
- ‘He was then free to practise as a gynaecologist, settling in the genteel spa town of Bad Nauheim, near Frankfurt.’
- ‘After that it looks like something from a more refined and genteel and luxurious and over-the-top era.’
- ‘There will be sports as genteel as lawn bowling and as rugged as Rugby Union.’
- ‘This was more of a genteel supper party than a Mafioso-style meeting of the families, but it was all about making deals nevertheless.’
- ‘Determined to live up to her new role as genteel landowner, the pop icon is opposing plans to allow ramblers to access her estate.’
- ‘Chang does speak with absolute conviction, but also with measured, genteel grace.’
- ‘She looks down her dainty nose, her delicately featured face wrinkling in genteel distaste.’
- ‘There is a genteel air of comfort and prosperity here and a crisp and clean environment only adds to it.’
- ‘The estate, once genteel but now a sprawling mass of dilapidated bedsits and flats, had a bad drug problem.’
- ‘These can be just as much of a drink fest as the gatherings at the pubs and clubs, albeit in a more genteel environment.’
- ‘Compared to mediums like oil or acrylic, watercolor has a vaguely genteel air.’
- ‘I have this image of a kind of old boys' club, of a rather genteel kind of place.’
Late 16th century (in the sense ‘fashionable, stylish’): from French gentil ‘well-born’. From the 17th century to the 19th century the word was used in such senses as ‘of good social position’, ‘having the manners of a well-born person’, ‘well bred’. The ironic or derogatory implication dates from the 19th century.
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