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[kur-tuh-see or for 5, kurt-see] /ˈkɜr tə si or for 5, ˈkɜrt si/
noun, plural courtesies.
excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior.
a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.
indulgence, consent, or acquiescence:
a “colonel” by courtesy rather than by right.
favor, help, or generosity:
The costumes for the play were by courtesy of the local department store.
a curtsy.
done or performed as a matter of courtesy or protocol:
a courtesy call on the mayor.
offered or provided free by courtesy of the management:
While waiting to board the airplane, we were provided with courtesy coffee.
Origin of courtesy
1175-1225; Middle English curteisie < Anglo-French, Old French; see courteous, -y3
Related forms
overcourtesy, noun
uncourtesy, noun, plural uncourtesies.
1. courteousness, civility, urbanity. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for courtesies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But we felt that we were returning like detected impostors, and we had no heart for their courtesies.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • I had no stomach for the courtesies that were meant for such a man as I was not.

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
  • Out I went in a fusillade of courtesies and sought a chauffeur.

  • Your courtesies to me have been the measure of your bad luck for many a day.

    Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume II. Charles James Lever
  • courtesies at this time were showered upon Lady George from all sides.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • For this was the night of her début, when Nathalie was to make her first courtesies to royalty.

    The Genius

    Margaret Horton Potter
  • She made her courtesies, and retired to put on her traveling-dress.

  • But in their pride they might refuse—let her not wonder at it, nor cease from her courtesies.

    The Royal Pawn of Venice

    Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull
British Dictionary definitions for courtesies


noun (pl) -sies
politeness; good manners
a courteous gesture or remark
favour or consent (esp in the phrase by courtesy of)
common consent as opposed to right (esp in the phrase by courtesy) See also courtesy title
(ˈkɜːtsɪ) an archaic spelling of curtsy
Word Origin
C13 curteisie, from Old French, from corteiscourteous
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for courtesies


early 13c., curteisie, from Old French curteisie (Modern French courtoisie), from curteis "courteous" (see courteous). A specialized sense of curteisie is the source of English curtsy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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