Definition of genteelism in US English:



  • A word or expression used because it is thought to be socially more acceptable than the everyday word.

    ‘in German usage “sister” was the accepted genteelism for “mistress.”’
    • ‘This genteelism is creeping in all over the place, as if the word ‘me’ has suddenly become impolite.’
    • ‘Lady used to indicate a woman professional, as in lady doctor and lady lawyer, a genteelism that dates from a time when women were rare in such professions.’
    polite term, substitute, mild alternative, indirect term, understatement, underplaying, softening, politeness, coy term
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