adjective, po·lit·er, po·lit·est.

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

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin polītus, past participle of polīre to polish
Related formspo·lite·ly, adverbpo·lite·ness, nounsu·per·po·lite, adjectivesu·per·po·lite·ly, adverbsu·per·po·lite·ness, noun

Synonyms for polite

1. well-bred, gracious. See civil. 2. urbane, polished, poised, courtly, cultivated.

Antonyms for polite

1, 2. rude.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for polite

Contemporary Examples of polite

Historical Examples of polite

  • "She might have been polite enough to invite me in," said Halbert, with chagrin.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • I knew I could make something more than a polite sosh out of you.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I don't call that polite, seeing that I have come back to live with you.


    William J. Locke

  • The plausible and polite manner of the stranger was effectual with George.

    Life in London

    Edwin Hodder

  • A polite lie had been written to her husband, a banker of power in the city.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for polite



showing regard for others, in manners, speech, behaviour, etc; courteous
cultivated or refinedpolite society
elegant or polishedpolite letters
Derived Formspolitely, adverbpoliteness, noun

Word Origin for polite

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

Word Origin and History for polite

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