What does "gentrification" mean?

That depends on who you ask.

One person could tell you it means more Chipotle and Starbucks locations, sandwiched between a new craft brewery and a luxury apartment complex.

Another person could summarize it as "higher rent."

Are you still confused? You're not the only one.

The people over at Merriam-Webster Dictionary said on Monday that searches for the definition of "gentrification" have risen 2500% since the story of a coffee shop in the RiNo/Five points area blew up the internet. A sign outside of ink! Coffee last week said "Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014." Since then, Facebook reviews of the shop sank, someone vandalized the exterior and people have gathered outside in protest.

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As on Monday afternoon, "gentrification" and "gentrify" are listed as the top trending words on merriam-webster.com.

Merriam-Webster defines "gentrification" as:

"The process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents."

According to their records, the word was first used by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964. "Gentrification" picked up more steam in the 70s.

Not every publication defines "gentrification" the way Merriam-Webster does.

Oxford Dictionary, for example, does not mention displacing anyone.

1. The process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.2. The process of making a person or activity more refined or polite.


1. The buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, raising property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.2. The process of conforming to an upper- or middle-class lifestyle, or of making a product, activity, etc., appealing to those with more affluent tastes.


The restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of low-income residents)