A nearly extinct species of human being as we move forward into the 21st century. A gentleman is defined by his exemplary behavior towards others, be they women or men or even animals.

Unfortunately, the idea of being a gentleman has fallen out of fashion because it's often associated with gender stereotyping and immense wealth. But a gentleman is simply a man who behaves respectfully towards others and strives to maintain his own respectability in the eyes of others. A man can be a gentleman no matter how much money he has, what level of society he comes from, or how old he is.

I sometimes use the phrase "Christian gentleman" as a synonym for "gentleman", since they share the goal of respect for others and treating other people as you would have them treat you. But this isn't exclusive to Christianity, nor to religion in general. A gentleman can be of any faith or of no faith at all; he is defined by how he behaves, not why.

A gentleman is, necessarily, male. The female equivalent is a lady. This isn't sexism, it's semantics. The only real difference between a gentleman and a lady (besides the obvious one) is during dancing; the gentleman leads, and the lady follows. And even this can be reversed, so long as it is agreed upon.

Since it's rather difficult to find high school classes in this sort of thing anymore, I've been composing my own "Gentleman's Code" over the past few years.

Gen"tle*man (?), n.; pl. Gentlemen (#). [OE. gentilman nobleman; gentil noble + man man; cf. F. gentilhomme.]


A man well born; one of good family; one above the condition of a yeoman.


One of gentle or refined manners; a well-bred man.

3. Her.

One who bears arms, but has no title.


The servant of a man of rank.

The count's gentleman, one Cesario. Shak.


A man, irrespective of condition; -- used esp. in the plural (= citizens; people), in addressing men in popular assemblies, etc.

⇒ In Great Britain, the term gentleman is applied in a limited sense to those having coats of arms, but who are without a title, and, in this sense, gentlemen hold a middle rank between the nobility and yeomanry. In a more extended sense, it includes every man above the rank of yeoman, comprehending the nobility. In the United States, the term is applied to men of education and good breeding of every occupation.

Gentleman commoner, one of the highest class of commoners at the University of Oxford. -- Gentleman usher, one who ushers visitors into the presence of a sovereign, etc. -- Gentleman usher of the black rod, an usher belonging to the Order of the Garter, whose chief duty is to serve as official messenger of the House of Lords. -- Gentlemen-at-arms, a band of forty gentlemen who attend the sovereign on state occasions; formerly called gentlemen pensioners. [Eng.]


© Webster 1913.

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