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American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

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Gentleman


GEN'TLEMAN, adjective [gentle, that is, genteel, and man. See Genteel.]

1. In its most extensive sense, in Great Britain, every man above the rank of yeomen, comprehending noblemen. In a more limited sense, a man, who without a title, bears a coat of arms, or whose ancestors have been freemen. In this sense, gentlemen hold a middle rank between the nobility and yeomanry.

2. In the United States, where titles and distinctions of rank do not exist, the term is applied to men of education and of good breeding, of every occupation. Indeed this is also the popular practice in Great Britain. Hence,

3. A man of good breeding, politeness, and civil manners, as distinguished from the vulgar and clownish.

A plowman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees.

4. A term of complaisance. In the plural, the appellation by which men are addressed in popular assemblies, whatever may be their condition or character.

5. In Great Britain, the servant of a man of rank, who attends his person.