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In modern speech the term gentleman refers to any man of good, courteous conduct. It may also refer to all men collectively, as in indications of gender-separated facilities, or as a sign of the speaker’s own courtesy when addressing others.In its original meaning, the term denoted a man of the lowest rank of the English gentry, standing below an esquire and above a yeoman. By definition, this category included the younger sons of the younger sons of peers and the younger sons of baronets (after this honour’s institution in 1611), knights, and esquires in perpetual succession, and thus the term captures the common denominator of gentility (and often armigerousness) shared by both constituents of the English aristocracy: the peerage and the gentry. In this sense, the word equates with the French gentilhomme (“nobleman”), which latter term has been, in Great Britain, long confined to the peerage; Maurice Keenpoints to the category of “gentlemen” in this context as thus constituting “the nearest contemporary English equivalent of the noblesse of France”.