adjective, po·lit·er, po·lit·est.
  1. showing good manners toward others, as in behavior, speech, etc.; courteous; civil: a polite reply.
  2. refined or cultured: polite society.
  3. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for politer

Historical Examples of politer

  • Millions of Americans though in a politer way are doing it all this week.

  • The politer word, to be used chivalrously, was "neurasthenia."

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht

  • "Don't mention the death," he said, using a politer word by preference.

    The Opal Serpent

    Fergus Hume

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

    Blind Man's Lantern

    Allen Kim Lang

  • It was the sorriest travesty of similar scenes in a politer world.

    The Convert

    Elizabeth Robins

British Dictionary definitions for politer


  1. showing regard for others, in manners, speech, behaviour, etc; courteous
  2. cultivated or refinedpolite society
  3. 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 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