Revised as of 1 September 2017
This is a recent word confusion I’m encountering and very disconcerting: genteel versus gentile. It’s not to say that a Gentile can’t be genteel, but the context simply isn’t working.
“Women juggling careers and families had little time for such gentile gestures.”
And gentle was added in, as I ran across Internet references which noted that it was also confused with the first two.
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Cambridge Dictionary|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Adjective||Adjective; Proper Noun
|Adjective 1; Noun 2;
Verb 1, intransitive & transitive
|Polite, refined, or respectable, often in an affected or ostentatious way||Adjective:
[Gentile] Not Jewish
[Of a linguistic expression] Expressing nationality or local origins
[Chiefly anthropology] Of, relating to, or indicating a nation or clan, especially a gens
[Of a person] Mild in temperament or behavior
Moderate in action, effect, or degree
[Fishing] A maggot, especially the larva of a blowfly, used as bait
|She was quite the genteel lady.
Holding your pinky in the air while drinking tea does not make you genteel.
They lived in genteel poverty.
The game seemed to be some genteel form of American football.
The mansion had an atmosphere of genteel elegance and decay.
He took elocution lessons to try to make his accent sound more genteel.
Christianity spread from Jewish into gentile cultures.
The Jews lived uneasily in the gentile neighborhood.
Nomen gentile is the name of an ancient Roman’s family, his surname if you will.
You must not associate with those Gentiles, child.
When a Gentile was converted to Judaism, he was called a proselyte.
Chooch was a gentle, sensitive dog.
Sir John was a good and gentle knight.
All it took was a little gentle persuasion.
A gentle breeze wafted through the leaves.
Thank god, it was a gentle embankment he thought, as he rolled down the hill.
The king was much loved, as he treated both the gentles and the commoners with respect and kindness.
Tweety had been gentled enough to sit on my hand.
James was renowned for gentling horses.
|Adjective: pseudogenteel, quasi-genteel
Adverb: genteely, quasi-genteelly
|Adjective: nongentile, pro-gentile, ungentile
Noun: nongentile, pro-Gentile
|Adjective: gentler, gentlest, overgentle, ungentle
Adverb: gently, overgently
|History of the Word:|
|Late 16th century in the sense of fashionable, stylish is from the French gentil meaning well-born.
From the 17th century to the 19th century, the word was used in such senses as of good social position, having the manners of a well-born person, or well-bred.
The 19th century is when the ironic or derogatory implication arose.
|Late Middle English from the Latin gentilis meaning of a family or nation, of the same clan (used in the Vulgate to refer to non-Jews), from gens, gent- meaning family, race, from the root of gignere meaning beget.||1 Middle English from the Old French gentil meaning highborn, noble, from the Latin gentilis meaning of the same clan (see gentile). The original sense was nobly born, hence courteous, chivalrous.
By the mid-16th century, it meant mild, moderate in action or disposition.
2 Late 16th century and probably from an obsolete sense of the adjectival version of soft, pliant.
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!