Congeniality – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you know someone who is very charismatic and tends to get along with everyone? Perhaps there is someone at your job that everyone just gravitates towards? If so, then the term congeniality is just the phrase you need to describe them. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

Congeniality means to be pleasant to be around because the person generally has the same tastes or disposition as the people they find themselves in the company of. A congenial person is one who can get along with anyone, typically making people laugh and being the life of the party, so to speak. He or she is always happy, at least as everyone else sees them, and can make light of any situation.

Congeniality is the noun form of the word congenial, thus it means that a person or place is congenial. While most of the time we tend to think of these terms to only relate to a person’s personality, congeniality can also refer to a place as being agreeable.

See the example usage below to learn how to use congeniality in relation to a place or a relationship. More information can be found in the video (here).

Example Usage

“Bill never has a bad word to say about anyone- he is known for his kind heartedness and congeniality”

“The rooms in our hotel were a perfect combination of cleanness, thoughtful design and congeniality”.

“I thought the park was a great place to go, it felt safe and congenial”.

“People that have a lot of congeniality tend to make great counselors and therapist”.

“We have a great relationship due to our congenial interests in the outdoors and extravagant cooking”.

Origin

The word congeniality gets its roots from Latin words, which is not a surprising fact, as Latin is at the root of most of the English language. Congeniality is thought to have come into our vocabulary in the 1600’s. It is derived from a combination of the Latin words “con” which is defined as “same” or “together,” and “geniālis” which is defined as warmly or pleasantly.

Thus, the word defined in Latin would mean literally “pleasantly the same.”

In the movie Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock enters the Miss America contest, but instead of winning first, second or third place she wins the title of “Miss Congeniality.”

Understanding what congeniality means now, it is clear to the viewer why she received this crown, but something I was unaware of was that the title of Miss Congeniality is not something the movie made up.

In the Miss America beauty contest, the title of Miss Congeniality is an actual title given to one contestant, and it is voted on by all of the contestants, not the judges! Therefore, while the origins of the word congeniality date as far back as the 1600’s, the word is still used regularly in our own beauty competitions.

Phrases Similar to Congeniality

  • The life of the party.
  • Compatible
  • Congenial
  • Friendly
  • Agreeable
  • Charasmatic

Phrases Opposite to Congeniality

  • Disagreeable
  • Unfriendly
  • Not compatible
  • Morose

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Congeniality- To be pleasant, whether as a person or a congenial place.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Congeniality

Using words correctly is harder than one might think when conversing in English- just ask anyone from another country! Congeniality could be used incorrectly if you do not understand the meaning of the word. Below are a few example of ways not to use this word.

Some ways that congeniality is used incorrectly are:

  • Her congeniality was agreeable.
  • They had similar tastes and congeniality.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Congeniality

  • She could have been crowned Miss Congeniality!
  • Working on increasing your congeniality is a great way to improve interpersonal relationships.
  • People with a lot of friends tend to exhibit a large amount of congeniality.
  • Those who have a personality of congeniality are generally easier to be around or to follow in times of stress.

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