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From Middle English gentil (courteous, noble), from Old French gentil (high-born, noble), from Latin gentilis (of the same family or clan), from gens ([Roman] clan)


  • IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒɛntl̩/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: gen‧tle


gentle (comparative gentler or more gentle, superlative gentlest or most gentle)

  1. Tender and amiable; of a considerate or kindly disposition.
    Stuart is a gentle man; he would never hurt you.
  2. Soft and mild rather than hard or severe.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 3, in The China Governess[1]:
      Here the stripped panelling was warmly gold and the pictures, mostly of the English school, were mellow and gentle in the afternoon light.
    I felt something touch my shoulder; it was gentle and a little slimy.
  3. Docile and easily managed.
    We had a gentle swim in the lake.
    a gentle horse
  4. Gradual rather than steep or sudden.
    The walks in this area have a gentle incline.
  5. Polite and respectful rather than rude.
    He gave me a gentle reminder that we had to hurry up.
  6. (archaic) Well-born; of a good family or respectable birth, though not noble.
    • Johnson's Cyc.
      British society is divided into nobility, gentry, and yeomanry, and families are either noble, gentle, or simple.
    • Milton
      the studies wherein our noble and gentle youth ought to bestow their time



Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


gentle (third-person singular simple present gentles, present participle gentling, simple past and past participle gentled)

  1. (intransitive) to become gentle (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  2. (transitive) to ennoble (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (transitive, animal husbandry) to break; to tame; to domesticate (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  4. (transitive) To soothe; to calm. (Can we add an example for this sense?)


gentle (plural gentles)

  1. (archaic) A person of high birth.
    • Shakespeare
      Gentles, methinks you frown.
  2. (archaic) A maggot used as bait by anglers (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. A trained falcon, or falcon-gentil.