Word of the Day: genteel
Genteel (adjective) jen-TEEL
1 a : of or relating to the gentry or upper class
b : elegant or graceful in manner, appearance, or shape
c : free from vulgarity or rudeness : polite
2 : marked by false delicacy, prudery, or affectation
“The Hamptons, once so genteel, with their sepulchral light and estates hidden behind neatly groomed hedges, have managed to become a nexus of social life, … where openings and charity galas and club nights fill the summer calendar.” — Marisa Meltzer, Town & Country, 1 Aug. 2016
“At this preternaturally elegant new French restaurant …, the waitstaff keeps things lively with cheeky repartee. On arrival one late-summer evening, a man, having located his party, said to the host, ‘I’m with them,’ and was met with a genteel retort: ‘As you should be.'” — Shauna Lyon, The New Yorker, 26 Sept. 2016
Did You Know?
In Roman times, the Latin noun gens was used to refer to a clan, a group of related people. Its plural gentes was used to designate all the people of the world, particularly non-Romans. An adjective form, gentilis, applied to both senses. Over time, the adjective was borrowed and passed through several languages. It came into Old French as gentil, a word that then meant “high-born” (in modern French it means “nice”); that term was carried over into Anglo-French, where English speakers found and borrowed it in the early 17th century.
Genteel, genteel. My my. It’s one thing to use the word in what one believes is the proper context and it’s quite another to discover you may have used it incorrectly over the years. Seeing the definitions in print have a way of making me stop and think. Have I used it wrong?
I know I’ve used it in the form described in ‘1b’ of the definitions, elegant and graceful. For example, when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance, it’s a thing of beauty, elegance, and grace. See, genteel.
But what about the other forms. Upper class, free of vulgarity and rudeness. I suppose those make sense to me. The gentry of society fits those definitions, though I know several of the gentries who are rude and vulgar to the rest of us.
However, definition #2 seems out of place to me. To be marked by false delicacy, prudery, and affectation, well that seems an antonym to me. I’ll need to reflect on this definition, but I don’t believe I’ll resolve it anytime during the writing of this blog.
So, what else could be considered genteel? When I went looking for images related to the word, I found the usual products and companies capitalizing on the term. I found numerous joke panels using the word.
Then I stumbled on the interior of the Chevrolet Camaro 2LT. To me, that is the perfect representation of elegance and grace. Of course, I am biased to the car. I own one I see another in my future. The only thing better that the elegance of the interior of my Camaro is a sexy blonde sitting in my Camaro.
If you share this post from my site on Twitter, you will receive a sexy bonus picture related to today’s word.
I love learning the different contexts of these words of the day. Do you? Please share your comments. I’m sure we would all like to read them.
Have a great day.
A jigsaw puzzle piece.