adjective, gen·tler, gen·tlest.

  1. kindly; amiable: a gentle manner.
  2. not severe, rough, or violent; mild: a gentle wind; a gentle tap on the shoulder.
  3. moderate: gentle heat.
  4. gradual: a gentle slope.
  5. of good birth or family; wellborn.
  6. characteristic of good birth; honorable; respectable: a gentle upbringing.
  7. easily handled or managed; tractable: a gentle animal.
  8. soft or low: a gentle sound.
  9. polite; refined: Consider, gentle reader, my terrible predicament at this juncture.
  10. entitled to a coat of arms; armigerous.
  11. Archaic. noble; chivalrous: a gentle knight.

verb (used with object), gen·tled, gen·tling.

  1. to tame; render tractable.
  2. to mollify; calm; pacify.
  3. to make gentle.
  4. to stroke; soothe by petting.
  5. to ennoble; dignify.


  1. having a mild or kindly nature or character
  2. soft or temperate; mild; moderatea gentle scolding
  3. graduala gentle slope
  4. easily controlled; tamea gentle horse
  5. archaic of good breeding; noblegentle blood
  6. archaic gallant; chivalrous

verb (tr)

  1. to tame or subdue (a horse)
  2. to appease or mollify
  3. obsolete to ennoble or dignify


  1. a maggot, esp when used as bait in fishing
  2. archaic a person who is of good breeding

early 13c., “well-born,” from Old French gentil “high-born, noble, of good family” (11c., in Modern French “nice, graceful, pleasing; fine pretty”), from Latin gentilis “of the same family or clan,” from gens (genitive gentis) “race, clan,” from root of gignere “beget,” from PIE root *gen- “produce” (see genus). Sense of “gracious, kind” (now obsolete) first recorded late 13c.; that of “mild, tender” is 1550s. Older sense remains in gentleman.

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