noun, plural gen·tle·men.

  1. a man of good family, breeding, or social position.
  2. (used as a polite term) a man: Do you know that gentleman over there?
  3. gentlemen, (used as a form of address): Gentlemen, please come this way.
  4. a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man: He behaved like a true gentleman.
  5. a male personal servant, especially of a man of social position; valet.
  6. a male attendant upon a king, queen, or other royal person, who is himself of high birth or rank.
  7. a man of good social standing, as a noble or an armigerous commoner.
  8. a man with an independent income who does not work for a living.
  9. a male member of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.
  10. History/Historical. a man who is above the rank of yeoman.

noun plural -men

  1. a man regarded as having qualities of refinement associated with a good family
  2. a man who is cultured, courteous, and well-educated
  3. a polite name for a man
  4. the personal servant of a gentleman (esp in the phrase gentleman’s gentleman)
  5. British history a man of gentle birth, who was entitled to bear arms, ranking above a yeoman in social position
  6. (formerly) a smuggler

“well-born man,” early 13c., from gentle + man.

The Gentleman is always truthful and sincere; will not agree for the sake of complaisance or out of weakness ; will not pass over that of which he disapproves. He has a clear soul, and a fearless, straightforward tongue. On the other hand he is not blunt and rude. His truth is courteous; his courtesy, truthful; never a humbug, yet, where he truthfully can, he prefers to say pleasant things. [J.R. Vernon, “Contemporary Review,” 1869]

Related: Gentlemen. Gentleman’s agreement is first attested 1929. Gentleman farmer recorded from 1749.

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