Etymology
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gentile (n.)

"one who is not a Jew," c. 1400; earlier "one who is not a Christian, a pagan" (late 14c.), from Late Latin noun use of Latin gentilis "of the same family or clan, of or belonging to a Roman gens," from gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups. Compare gentle.

The Latin adjective also meant "of or belonging to the same nation," hence, as a noun, gentiles (plural) might mean "men of family; persons belonging to the same family; fellow countrymen, kinsmen," but also "foreigners, barbarians" (as opposed to Romans), those bound only by the Jus Gentium, the "law of nations," defined as "the law that natural reason establishes among all mankind and is followed by all peoples alike."

The Latin word then was used in the Vulgate to translate Greek ethnikos (see ethnic), from ta ethne "the nations," which translated Hebrew ha goyim "the (non-Jewish) nations" (see goy). Hence in Late Latin, after the Christianization of Rome, gentilis also could mean "pagans, heathens," as opposed to Christians. Based on Scripture, gentile also was used by Mormons (1847) and Shakers (1857) to refer to those not of their profession.

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goy (n.)

"a gentile, a non-Jew" (plural goyim), 1835, from Hebrew goy "people, nation;" in Mishnaic and Modern Hebrew, also "gentile" (compare gentile). The fem. form of the Hebrew word entered French as gouge "a wench" (15c.).

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genteel (adj.)

1590s, "fashionably elegant; suitable to polite society, characteristic of a lady or gentleman; decorous in manners or behavior," from French gentil "stylish, fashionable, elegant; nice, graceful, pleasing," from Old French gentil "high-born, noble" (11c.); a reborrowing (with evolved senses) of the French word that had early come into English as gentle (q.v.), with French pronunciation and stress preserved to emphasize the distinction. The Latin source of the French word is the ancestor of English gentile, but the main modern meaning of that word is from a later Scriptural sense in Latin. See also jaunty. OED 2nd ed. reports genteel "is now used, except by the ignorant, only in mockery" (a development it dates from the 1840s).

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gentle (adj.)

early 13c., gentile, gentle "well-born, of noble rank or family," from Old French gentil/jentil "high-born, worthy, noble, of good family; courageous, valiant; fine, good, fair" (11c., in Modern French "nice, graceful, pleasing; fine, pretty") and directly from Latin gentilis "of the same family or clan," in Medieval Latin "of noble or good birth," from gens (genitive gentis) "race, clan," from root of gignere "beget," from PIE root *gene- "to give birth, beget," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.

Sense evolved in English and French to "having the character or manners of one of noble rank or birth," varying according to how those were defined. From mid-13c. in English as "gracious, kind" (now obsolete), manners prescribed for Christian or chivalrous nobility. From late 13c. as "courteous, polite, well-bred, charming;" c. 1300 as "graceful, beautiful." Meaning "mild, tender; easy; not harsh" (of animals, things, persons) is from 1550s. Older sense remains in gentleman, and compare gentile (adj.), an alternative form which tends to keep the Biblical senses of the Latin word (though gentle in Middle English sometimes meant "pagan, heathen"), and genteel, which is the same word borrowed again from French. From 1823 as "pertaining to the fairies."

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heathen 

Old English hæðen "not Christian or Jewish," also as a noun, "heathen man, one of a race or nation which does not acknowledge the God of the Bible" (especially of the Danes), merged with Old Norse heiðinn (adj.) "heathen, pagan," from Proto-Germanic *haithana- (source also of Old Saxon hedhin, Old Frisian hethen, Dutch heiden, Old High German heidan, German Heiden), which is of uncertain origin.

Perhaps literally "dweller on the heath, one inhabiting uncultivated land;" see heath + -en (2). Historically assumed to be ultimately from Gothic haiþno "gentile, heathen woman," used by Ulfilas in the first translation of the Bible into a Germanic language (as in Mark vii.26, for "Greek"); like other basic words for exclusively Christian ideas (such as church) it likely would have come first into Gothic and then spread to other Germanic languages. If so it could be a noun use of an unrelated Gothic adjective (compare Gothic haiþi "dwelling on the heath," but a religious sense is not recorded for this).

Whether native or Gothic, it might have been chosen on model of Latin paganus, with its root sense of "rural" (see pagan), but that word appears relatively late in the religious sense. Or the Germanic word might have been chosen for its resemblance to Greek ethne (see gentile), or it may be a literal borrowing of that Greek word, perhaps via Armenian hethanos [Sophus Bugge]. Boutkan (2005) presents another theory:

It is most probable that the Gmc. word *haiþana- referred to a person living on the heath, i.e. on common land, i.e. a person of one's own community. It would then be a neutral word used by heathen people in order to refer to each other rather than a Christian, negative word denoting non-Christians.
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*gene- 

*genə-, also *gen-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.

It forms all or part of: Antigone; autogenous; benign; cognate; congener; congenial; congenital; connate; cosmogony; cryogenic; degenerate; engender; engine; epigone; eugenics; -gen; gendarme; gender; gene; genealogy; general; generate; generation; generic; generous; genesis; -genesis; genial; -genic; genital; genitive; genius; genocide; genotype; genre; gens; gent; genteel; gentile; gentle; gentry; genuine; genus; -geny; germ; german (adj.) "of the same parents or grandparents;" germane; germinal; germinate; germination; gingerly; gonad; gono-; gonorrhea; heterogeneous; homogeneous; homogenize; homogenous; impregnate; indigenous; ingenious; ingenuous; innate; jaunty; kermes; kin; kindergarten; kindred; king; kind (n.) "class, sort, variety;" kind (adj.) "friendly, deliberately doing good to others;" Kriss Kringle; malign; miscegenation; nada; naive; nascent; natal; Natalie; nation; native; nature; nee; neonate; Noel; oncogene; ontogeny; photogenic; phylogeny; pregnant (adj.1) "with child;" primogenitor; primogeniture; progenitor; progeny; puisne; puny; renaissance; theogony; wunderkind.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit janati "begets, bears," janah "offspring, child, person," janman- "birth, origin," jatah "born;" Avestan zizanenti "they bear;" Greek gignesthai "to become, happen," genos "race, kind," gonos "birth, offspring, stock;" Latin gignere "to beget," gnasci "to be born," genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, kind; family, birth, descent, origin," genius "procreative divinity, inborn tutelary spirit, innate quality," ingenium "inborn character," possibly germen "shoot, bud, embryo, germ;" Lithuanian gentis "kinsmen;" Gothic kuni "race;" Old English cennan "beget, create," gecynd "kind, nature, race;" Old High German kind "child;" Old Irish ro-genar "I was born;" Welsh geni "to be born;" Armenian cnanim "I bear, I am born."

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shiksa (n.)

"gentile girl," in Jewish culture, dismissive or disparaging, 1892 (Zangwill), from Yiddish shikse, from Hebrew siqsa, from sheqes "a detested thing" + fem. suffix -a.

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yok (n.)

slang, "gentile, non-Jew," pejorative, 1920, from Yiddish, where it is back slang, a reversed and altered form of goy.

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gentility (n.)

mid-14c., "nobility of birth, gentle birth," from Old French gentilité (14c.), from Latin gentilitatem (nominative gentilitas) "relationship in the same family or clan," from gentilis "of the same family or clan" (see gentle; also compare gentry). From 1640s as "social superiority." Meaning "state of being gentile" is rare.

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yenta (n.)

"gossip, busybody," 1923, from Yente Telebende, comic strip gossip in 1920s-30s writing of Yiddish newspaper humorist B. Kovner (pen-name of Jacob Adler) in the "Jewish Daily Forward." It was a common Yiddish fem. proper name, altered from Yentl and said to be ultimately from Italian gentile "kind, gentle," earlier "noble, high-born" (see gentle).

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