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or debonaire, debonnaire

[deb-uh-nair] /ˌdɛb əˈnɛər/
courteous, gracious, and having a sophisticated charm:
a debonair gentleman.
jaunty; carefree; sprightly.
Origin of debonair
1175-1225; Middle English debone(i)re < Anglo-French; Old French debonaire, orig. phrase de bon aire of good lineage
Related forms
debonairly, adverb
debonairness, noun
1. urbane, suave, elegant, polished. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for debonair
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And there we stood, every one of us a miserable picture of guilt, and tried to look innocent and debonair and unsuspicious.

    When a Man Marries Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • His beauty, his grace, his debonair manner—they were all hateful to her now.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • Strange to say, John Garnet, usually so debonair and ready of speech, seemed at a loss for a reply.

    Katerfelto G. J. Whyte-Melville
  • He was leaning back in a morris chair, rakish, debonair, and at his ease.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • He described Philip as the most liberal and debonair of princes; his council in Spain as cruel and sanguinary.

British Dictionary definitions for debonair


adjective (esp of a man or his manner)
suave and refined
carefree; light-hearted
courteous and cheerful; affable
Derived Forms
debonairly, adverb
debonairness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French debonaire, from de bon aire having a good disposition
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 debonair

c.1200, "mild, gentle, kind courteous," from Old French debonaire, from de bon' aire "of good race," originally used of hawks, hence, "thoroughbred" (opposite of French demalaire). Used in Middle English to mean "docile, courteous," it became obsolete and was revived with an altered sense of "pleasant, affable" (1680s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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