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[puh-lahyt] /pəˈlaɪt/
adjective, politer, politest.
showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil:
a polite reply.
refined or cultured:
polite society.
of a refined or elegant kind:
polite learning.
Origin of polite
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin polītus, past participle of polīre to polish
Related forms
politely, adverb
politeness, noun
superpolite, adjective
superpolitely, adverb
superpoliteness, noun
1. well-bred, gracious. See civil. 2. urbane, polished, poised, courtly, cultivated.
1, 2. rude. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for politeness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now she had some one to talk to, to release the gentlemen from the imperative claims of politeness.

  • Just when you get where their politeness has smoothed you down, look out for a knife in your back.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • And an ordinary Oriental would never rise of his own natural free will out of politeness to a woman.

    Woman in Science John Augustine Zahm
  • The housewives admired her economy, the patients her politeness, the poor her charity.

    Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
  • Out of politeness, I did not wish to read it in your presence.

British Dictionary definitions for politeness


showing regard for others, in manners, speech, behaviour, etc; courteous
cultivated or refined: polite society
elegant or polished: polite letters
Derived Forms
politely, adverb
politeness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin polītus polished; see polish
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 politeness



late 14c., "polished, burnished" (mid-13c. as a surname), from Latin politus "refined, elegant, accomplished," literally "polished," past participle of polire "to polish, to make smooth" (see polish (v.)). Used literally at first in English; sense of "elegant, cultured" is first recorded c.1500, that of "behaving courteously" is 1748 (implied in politely). Related: Politeness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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