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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 politer
Historical Examples
  • But with us in the politer reign of Charles II., this power of correction began to be doubted.

    Ethics John Dewey and James Hayden Tufts
  • "Don't mention the death," he said, using a politer word by preference.

    The Opal Serpent Fergus Hume
  • With what magic were the old ceremonials of a professor's reception exchanged for the easier habits of a politer world!

    Arthur O'Leary Charles James Lever
  • It was the sorriest travesty of similar scenes in a politer world.

    The Convert Elizabeth Robins
  • Why, for example, did all the politer Murnans eat with the right hand only?

    Blind Man's Lantern Allen Kim Lang
  • Millions of Americans though in a politer way are doing it all this week.

    The Ghost in the White House Gerald Stanley Lee
  • But he treated the old gentleman so respectfully that he could not have been politer to the King himself.

    Albert Savarus Honore de Balzac
  • “I guess I ought to have been politer,” Eleanor said slowly.

    Turn About Eleanor Ethel M. Kelley
  • Before I can turn round to run away, she is on her legs, wide awake in an instant, and politer than ever.

  • I felt so mortified, Marilla; he might have been politer to a stranger, I think.

    Anne Of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery
British Dictionary definitions for politer


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 politer



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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