Definition of gentility in English:



  • Social superiority as demonstrated by genteel manners, behavior, or appearances.

    ‘her grandmother's pretensions to gentility’
    • ‘Chintz armchairs and couch, and a walnut sideboard with light-catching decanters and a crystal fruit bowl on lace, completed to the air of polite gentility.’
    • ‘Eschewing the ostentatious gentility of readers, who enjoy parading their superficial knowledge, she pursues her intellectual work without need of an audience.’
    • ‘Doing so, she challenges conceptions of gender, race, gentility, and commodity culture that were already in flux after the war.’
    • ‘Increasingly a biological definition of gentility was being challenged and surpassed by a cultural one, which allowed an expanding middling order access, through an appropriate use of their wealth, to social kudos.’
    • ‘Once he became rich, he bought a huge house and created this appearance of gentility and breeding in his daughters.’
    • ‘The square looks in on itself, exuding an air of imperturbable gentility.’
    • ‘He liked to prick the bubble of their gentility by doing things like that.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, music for the home centred on the piano, which was now the quintessential domestic instrument, badge of female gentility and social respectability.’
    • ‘Since any ill-bred person threatened to undermine everyone else's claims to gentility, such rudeness had to be banned from polite social intercourse.’
    • ‘Those of high social standing and sufficient leisure could cultivate their person ‘as a work of art’ in which expression and gesture became indexes of gentility and civilite.’
    • ‘With suit pressed and vacuous smile, he remains the image of gentility: he is privileged, sheltered and supported from the realities of engaging with the world.’
    • ‘These dealers were usually people of independent means, and a certain reticent gentility hovered over their dealings.’
    • ‘The diversity of his choices reflects the desire of his patrons to surround themselves with the trappings of culture and gentility that at the time were equated with European antiques.’
    • ‘Since drinking coffee socially was something that gentility and the aristocracy did, the middle classes could prove their own respectability and gentility by doing the same.’
    • ‘Pink roses symbolize grace and gentility in modern rose vocabulary.’
    • ‘While literacy is associated with inherent gentility in a colonial space where social standards are in flux, literacy does not have the same currency for the governess back home in Britain.’
    • ‘How reassuring it is, to know that our governing party staffs its conferences with persons of such gentility, good sense, and tact.’
    • ‘With independence approaching, the small community was gripped by a wave of hedonistic debauchery that undermined its pretence at prim parasol-and-petticoat gentility.’
    • ‘Clerks were continually chided for carrying themselves with a pretence of gentility in their dress, but clerks had little choice in the matter.’
    • ‘Individuals can learn to act politely, but they cannot become genteel unless their gentility is publicly acknowledged by persons who are themselves genteel.’
    social superiority, respectability, refinement, pre-eminence, pride of place, distinction, ascendancy
    respectability, refinement, polish, decorousness, correctness, seemliness, politeness, good manners, culture, breeding, cultivation, sophistication, courtesy, ladylikeness, gentlemanliness, civility, elegance, style, stylishness, urbanity, civilization, courtliness, dignity, grace, graciousness, punctiliousness
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Middle English (in the sense ‘honorable birth’): from Old French gentilite, from gentil (see gentle).