Today, we use the word 'gentleman' without understanding how deep its meaning really is. Audiences large or small, are commonly addressed as "ladies and gentlemen". On looking at the real meaning of the word 'gentleman', we realize how carelessly we use it. The word has evolved over a long time. It is associated with esteemed values and principles that should be possessed by a man to be called a gentleman.
The connotation of the word gentleman has changed over time. It once implied a man of conduct or a man of virtue. Today, it is commonly used to refer to any male. Here, we look at how the term 'gentleman' came about and what characteristics one should possess to qualify as one.
Origin of the Term
- According to an old story, a woman once requested the king to make her son a gentleman. The king replied that he would be able to make him a nobleman and only God would be able to make him a gentleman.
- During the Shakespearean era, a man who bore a coat of arms was considered as a gentleman.
- During the olden days, wearing a sword was one of the visible characteristics of gentlemen.
- With the introduction of Confucianism in the East, certain other characteristics came to be associated with gentlemen. A gentleman was supposed to hold good moral values and be loyal and pious. A man who sought justice, and acted fair and human, was considered as a gentleman.
Being a gentleman does not depend on the social standing of a man. It depends on his behavior. Today, one may associate a gentleman with gentleness. But the real significance of the word is a man's characteristic of gentility. It's the decency in a man's behavior that characterizes him as a gentleman.
A gentleman is someone who does not take undue advantage of his power or of the weaknesses of those around him. He does not compel others to do anything against their wish. A gentleman never offends others physically or mentally. He never inflicts pain.
He is wise. He is thoughtful and has foresight. Other characteristics of a gentleman include prudence, calm, and a great sense of principles. He can keep his cool in all types of situations. A gentleman never boasts of himself. He is merciful and tender. He refrains from getting into conflicts or debates.
A gentleman is a man of resolute character, which means he has a backbone. He goes by his instincts. He has a thirst for knowledge and he is always eager to learn. He never looks at people with prejudiced eyes. He keeps himself away from badmouthing others and making unreasonable allegations on people. He dislikes gossip.
Others Traits of Gentlemen
Above all, a gentleman bases his thoughts and actions on philosophical principles. He accepts pain and understands that certain things in life are inevitable. He has the courage to accept death. He adheres to righteousness throughout his life. Now think for yourself, how many gentlemen do you know?