Definition of genteel adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//dʒenˈtiːl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//dʒenˈtiːl//
    (sometimes disapproving)
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  1. 1(of people and their way of life) quiet and polite, often in an exaggerated way; from, or pretending to be from, a high social class a genteel manner Her genteel accent irritated me. He lived in genteel poverty (= trying to keep the style of a high social class, but with little money).
  2. 2(of places) quiet and old-fashioned and perhaps slightly boring
  3. Word Originlate 16th cent. (in the sense ‘fashionable, stylish’): from French gentil ‘well-born’. From the 17th cent. to the 19th cent. 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 cent.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: genteel