[pol-i-tes; French paw-lee-tes]


formal politeness; courtesy.

Origin of politesse

1710–20; < French: orig. clean or polished state < Italian politezza, variant of pulitezza (derivative of polito polite)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for politesse

Contemporary Examples of politesse

Historical Examples of politesse

  • Your papa hath told me so with a politesse not often seen on this side Paris.

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • In the last century the Italians were first in doctrine and politesse.

  • How different does his Lordship appear to me—to me he is all politesse.

    Such Things Are

    Mrs. Inchbald

  • Positively you shall go with me as was agreed, and don't let me have any of your politesse to H. on the occasion.

  • "So then this was a piece of 'politesse,' for which I am indebted to your friend Terry's own devising," said Fred, half angrily.

    The O'Donoghue

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for politesse



formal or genteel politeness

Word Origin for politesse

C18: via French from Italian politezza, ultimately from Latin polīre to 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 politesse

"civility," 1717, from French politesse (17c.), from Italian politezza, properly "the quality of being polite," from polito "polite," from Latin politus (see polite).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper