A word or expression thought by its user to be more refined than another, as in expectorate for spit.


a word or phrase used in place of a less genteel one


(dʒɛnˈti lɪz əm)

a word or phrase used in place of another, supposedly less genteel term.


1. the deliberate use of a word or phrase as a substitute for one thought to be less proper, if not coarse, as male cow for buil or limb for leg.
2. an instance of such substitution.
See also: Language
a polished style and graceful form in literary works.
See also: Literary Style
References in periodicals archive ?
Such apparent lapses in literary realism have been either condemned by more radical critics as symptoms of its complicity in racism with the dominant social forces, or more often condoned as slips caused by the residual genteelism that failed to tune in to realism's avowed humanitarian aspirations.
In Modern English Usage, Henry Fowler was often misled by his own personal preferences, and proved wrong by history--as in his subjective belief that "Chiropodist is a barbarism and a genteelism.
But I forbear to animadvert further on the disgraceful performance of this fons et origo of the new genteelism, as the job has already been done so splendidly by Leon Wieseltier on the back page of The New Republic.
Time magazine film critic Richard Schickel recalls "New Yorker" as "the Langdon Street (Madison's fraternity row) genteelism for Jews" as part of his Wisconsin experience in the early 1950s.
Rolfe, for Perloff, synedochically represents a "radical political" wing doomed by its weak repetition of 1890s genteelism to poetic and political failure.