- Having a buoyant or self-confident air; brisk.
- Crisp and dapper in appearance; natty.
Origin: French gentil, nice, from Old French, noble; see gentle.
Related Forms:Word History:
French not only gave us hundreds of words, it sometimes gave us the same word more than once. A prime example is Old French gentil,
“high-born, noble.” In the early 1200s, this was borrowed into Middle English and spelled as gentile,
which later developed to mean “having the character of a nobleman, courteous,” and, by the 1500s, “soft, mild.” After some changes in spelling, the result was Modern English gentle.
was borrowed again into English at the end of the 16th century, also in the spelling gentile
and meaning “well-bred, belonging to or appropriate to the gentry.” In the ensuing century it came also to mean “courteous, elegant,” and continues to do so today as the word genteel.
Since the spelling gentile
did not accurately represent the word's French pronunciation, in the 17th century some people wrote it jantee
This word took on a life of its own: while it originally meant “well-bred,” by the 1670s it meant “easy or unconcerned in manner,” and thence “spritely, lively, brisk.” Thus was born jaunty.
The French gentil
that spawned these words comes from Latin gentīlis,
which meant simply “belonging to (the same) gēns
or family.” It is from the original Latin meaning that we get the modern word gentile,
borrowed in the 14th century (again through French) meaning, essentially, “belonging to the same family as all non-Jews.”