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gentle +‎ man, calque of French gentilhomme.


  • IPA(key): /ˈdʒɛn.təl.mən/
  • (General American) IPA(key): [ˈdʒɛɾ̃.əl.mən]
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  • Hyphenation: gentle‧man


gentleman (plural gentlemen)

  1. (chiefly historical) A man of gentle but not noble birth, particularly a man of means (originally ownership of property) who does not work for a living but has no official status in a peerage; (Britain law) an armiferous man ranking below a knight.
    Being a gentleman, Robert was entitled to shove other commoners into the gongpit but he still had to jump out of the way of the knights to avoid the same fate himself.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “[…] This is Mr. Churchill, who, as you are aware, is good enough to come to us for his diaconate, and, as we hope, for much longer; and being a gentleman of independent means, he declines to take any payment.” Saying this Walden rubbed his hands together and smiled contentedly.
  2. Any well-bred, well-mannered, or charming man.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
      I corralled the judge, and we started off across the fields, in no very mild state of fear of that gentleman's wife, whose vigilance was seldom relaxed.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, []. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. [] I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
    • 2011, Mike Pappas, Growing Up the Greek Way in the Big Apple (page 103)
      She wanted to go see a movie called Gigi, which I was not too thrilled about. But being a gentleman, I bit my tongue and said, “Okay.”
  3. (derogatory) An effeminate or oversophisticated man.
    Well, la-di-da, aren't you just a proper gentleman?
  4. (polite term of address) Any man.
    Please escort this gentleman to the gentlemen's room.
  5. (usually historical, sometimes derogatory) An amateur or dabbler in any field, particularly those of independent means.
    • 2004, Mary N. Woods, "The First Professional: Benjamin Henry Latrobe", in, Keith L. Eggener, editor, American Architectural History: A Contemporary Reader, Routledge, electronic edition, →ISBN, p.119 [1]:
      Latrobe had extensive dealings with Jefferson, the most prominent gentleman-architect in the United States.
  6. (cricket) An amateur player, particularly one whose wealth permits him to forego payment.

Usage notesEdit

Although gentleman is used in reference to a man and gentlemen is used as a polite form of address to a group of men, it is more common to directly address a single gentleman as sir.

Coordinate termsEdit

Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from gentleman

Related termsEdit




Borrowed from English gentleman.



gentleman m (plural gentlemen)

  1. gentleman, especially an anglophone one

Further readingEdit




gentleman m (plural gentlémanes)

  1. British gentleman