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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for debonnaire
Historical Examples
  • Yet what a change they make in the beautiful, debonnaire countenance!

    Molly Bawn Margaret Wolfe Hamilton
  • Ferdinand the debonnaire, the well-loved, the generator of heirs.

  • Her pretty face, usually so bright and debonnaire, is pale and sad.

    Mrs. Geoffrey Duchess
  • General debonnaire believed that a campaign was imminent, and prepared for it.

    Penguin Island Anatole France
  • He seemed to be riding through life for a fall, and rode with his chin up, gay and debonnaire.

    The Isle of Unrest Henry Seton Merriman
  • If only for his debonnaire indifference, they knew him for a “bad man” such as none of them might ever hope to be.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle
  • But the aspects of the wearers of warlike accoutrements are debonnaire and smiling, as of revellers on a holiday of peace.

    The Parisians, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Yet here she was, debonnaire and fresh and perfectly appointed—and ah, so terribly neat and spectacularly finessed!

  • Handsome, dashing, debonnaire, he approaches a field of battle as a light-hearted schoolboy approaches a football field.

    The Great Boer War Arthur Conan Doyle
  • He must always have been older than the gay, handsome, debonnaire father, who had been so dear to her.

    A Little Rebel Margaret Wolfe Hungerford
British Dictionary definitions for debonnaire


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 debonnaire



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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