gentry

[jen-tree]
noun
1.
wellborn and well-bred people.
2.
(in England) the class below the nobility.
3.
an upper or ruling class; aristocracy.
4.
those who are not members of the nobility but are entitled to a coat of arms, especially those owning large tracts of land.
5.
(used with a plural verb) people, especially considered as a specific group, class, or kind: The polo crowd doesn't go there, but these hockey gentry do.
6.
the state or condition of being a gentleman.

Origin:
1275–1325; Middle English < Old French genterie. See gentile, gentle

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World English Dictionary
gentry (ˈdʒɛntrɪ)
 
n
1.  persons of high birth or social standing; aristocracy
2.  (Brit) persons just below the nobility in social rank
3.  informal, derogatory often people, esp of a particular group or kind
 
[C14: from Old French genterie, from gentilgentle]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

gentry
c.1300, from O.Fr. genterise, variant of gentilise "noble birth, gentleness," from gentil (see gentle). Gentrify "to renovate inner-city housing to middle-class standards" is a 1972 formation. In Anglo-Ir., gentry was a name for "the fairies" (1880), and gentle could mean "enchanted" (1823).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Nobility and gentry were allowed to ride the coaches, but not soldiers and
  peasants.
Their upbringing was a conventional one of landed gentry with insufficient
  means.
So, not by chance, have other old sports practised or patronised by the gentry.
He discovered that he had invented a gentry almost as cynical as he was himself.
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