Definition of genteel in US English:

genteel

adjective

  • Polite, refined, or respectable, often in an affected or ostentatious way.

    • ‘Chang does speak with absolute conviction, but also with measured, genteel grace.’
    • ‘It was a genteel game then for gentlemen, nurtured in a corner of the globe on the village greens of Henley and Marlow.’
    • ‘These can be just as much of a drink fest as the gatherings at the pubs and clubs, albeit in a more genteel environment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Let us not mince words, culling is a genteel word for killing, in fact for sheer bloody carnage, such as you propose.’
    • ‘Joséphine's upper lip wrinkles with almost genteel scorn when asked about her circumstances.’
    • ‘After that it looks like something from a more refined and genteel and luxurious and over-the-top era.’
    • ‘There is a genteel air of comfort and prosperity here and a crisp and clean environment only adds to it.’
    • ‘Determined to live up to her new role as genteel landowner, the pop icon is opposing plans to allow ramblers to access her estate.’
    • ‘In contrast Harriet's family represents the fading genteel elegance of the old South.’
    • ‘She looks down her dainty nose, her delicately featured face wrinkling in genteel distaste.’
    • ‘The couple now live in the genteel English coastal enclave of Hove, sister town to Brighton, with their twin sons.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I have this image of a kind of old boys' club, of a rather genteel kind of place.’
    • ‘The estate, once genteel but now a sprawling mass of dilapidated bedsits and flats, had a bad drug problem.’
    • ‘He was then free to practise as a gynaecologist, settling in the genteel spa town of Bad Nauheim, near Frankfurt.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Compared to mediums like oil or acrylic, watercolor has a vaguely genteel air.’
    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, punctilious
    View synonyms

Origin

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.

Pronunciation

genteel

/jenˈtēl//dʒɛnˈtil/